High cholesterol isn’t something you should take lightly. Your risk of heart attack and stroke increases immensely as your cholesterol spikes. With your doctor’s permission, make some changes in your diet and lifestyle to bring your cholesterol down as fast as possible. Changes won’t happen overnight, so stick with your new routine. After all, it took a while for your cholesterol to go up and it will take some time to bring it back down.
Exercise is one of the fastest ways to lower your cholesterol, because each time you work out, you’re taking small steps in the right direction. Physical activity lowers your triglycerides and elevates your high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, which is the good cholesterol you need. If you’re typically sedentary, the Cleveland Clinic advises that you start out with just 15 to 20 minutes each day -- with your doctor’s approval. Gradually work your way up until you’re getting 30 to 40 minutes of exercise most days of the week, or roughly 200 minutes each week.
Eat Your Oats
Getting more soluble fiber in your diet helps flush out excess cholesterol, binding with it and excreting it during digestion. Adding 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber to your diet daily may lower your LDL -- low-density lipoprotein -- by up to 5 percent, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Oats are one of the richest sources of soluble fiber. You’ll get about 2 grams of soluble fiber from 1 cup of cooked oatmeal. Stir in a tablespoon of psyllium seeds and you’ll sneak in another 5 grams. Top off your bowl of oatmeal with one-half cup of blackberries, wedges from a medium orange or a medium sliced banana. These fruits add another 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber to your meal.
Watch Your Fats
You need fat in your diet, but it's important to focus on the right types of fat. Mono- and polyunsaturated fats, or MUFAs and PUFAs, can help improve your cholesterol levels, while trans fats and saturated raise the bad LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL. The American Heart Association recommends that you consume no more than 1 percent of your calories from trans fats and 7 percent of your calories from saturated fat. That’s a maximum of 2 grams of trans fat and 15 grams of saturated fat on a 2,000 calorie diet. You should also keep your dietary cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams per day.
Nuts aren’t just a source of soluble fiber -- they’re also full of heart-healthy fats and antioxidants like vitamin E. These beneficial food components protect heart tissue, veins and arteries, all the while improving your cholesterol. Enjoying 2 ounces of walnuts, pistachios, almonds or other nuts each day may lower your low-density lipoprotein by as much as 5 percent, the Harvard Medical School reports. Measure out your portion before snacking freely from the container because calories can add up quickly.