Whether your cholesterol is starting to creep up or your doctor has warned you that medication is in your future, it is never too late to make changes to reduce elevated cholesterol levels. Making changes now can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and other life-threatening consequences.

Watch Your Diet

The general consensus is to adopt a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet to prevent or reduce high cholesterol. Much of the obsession over fat in products leads people to eat diets that are high in other harmful ingredients, such as sugar and salt. Not all fat is bad and being overly-strict about your fat intake can reduce your intake of healthy fats. One of the best ways to adopt a healthier diet is to focus on eating whole foods.

There is some debate on whether eating meat and dairy with less fat and cholesterol is actually better. The reason there is debate is because of changes in dietary guidelines associated with heart disease and dietary cholesterol.

Unless you have a strong predisposition to develop high cholesterol, you are unlikely to consume enough cholesterol in your diet to cause problems. Of course, this does not mean eating fried foods and fatty meats should be a staple in your diet, but it does mean always eating egg whites and chicken breasts is not necessarily better. You might choose to eat leaner proteins and dairy on most days, but feel free to have a couple of days each week where you incorporate some egg yolks, dark meat poultry, or a steak with marbling.

When combined with healthy carbs and vegetables, your meals are likely to feel more satisfying. Additionally, add healthy sources of fat, such as salmon, avocado, flax seeds, and extra-virgin olive oil. Implement a few changes to your diet and see how if your cholesterol levels change before making other tweaks to your diet. Everyone is different and the dietary changes that work for one person with high cholesterol may not work for you.

Start Incorporating Fiber

Fiber is important for both gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health, but each system requires a different form of fiber. The fiber associated with reduced cholesterol levels is soluble fiber. When increasing fiber, many people choose to use powdered fiber supplements because it is much easier to know exactly the type of fiber you are taking and control the amount to avoid unpleasant side effects. If you would rather focus on increasing soluble fiber through your diet, you will need to know which foods contain soluble fiber, since it is rarely differentiated on the labels and many products that seem high-fiber can be misleading. For example, many people choose to incorporate whole-grain breads and cereal in their diet, but upon closer inspection, some of these products contain sparse amounts of grains and are not much better than white bread or pasta.

Oatmeal remains a popular option to improve cholesterol levels as long as you purchase the right type. Instant varieties are overly-processed, which removes their nutritional benefits. Choose steel-cut oatmeal or other variations that require more cooking. If you do not have the time to cook oatmeal, try overnight oat recipes. The oatmeal soaks overnight with milk (or milk alternatives) and your favorite (healthy) toppings. You can choose to eat it cold or heat in the microwave for a quick, cholesterol-reducing breakfast. Add flax seed, nuts, and fruit to increase the soluble fiber and make unique flavor combinations.

Try Cholesterol-Reducing Supplements

Supplements can be critical for helping on your journey toward lower cholesterol, especially if you are trying to reduce your cholesterol on your own without the help of statins. Fish oil is a popular option for lowering cholesterol and can be especially useful if you eat little to no fatty fish throughout the week. One minor down side to fish oil supplements is the unpleasant instance of burping a fish taste or smell after taking them. Keeping your supplements in the freezer or looking for brands that are specifically designed to avoid this problem will make taking fish oil easier.

Another supplement you should consider are beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are a type of sugar that affects your cholesterol levels by reducing the amount of cholesterol that reaches the blood stream. For people who have a genetic tendency to have cholesterol problems and must eliminate cholesterol in their diet, beta-glucan supplements can boost a low-cholesterol diet since it can be difficult to eliminate all sources of dietary cholesterol.

Even if you have not been diagnosed with high cholesterol, it is never too early to make changes that may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Small, consistent changes are the key to keeping your cholesterol lower.