Non-high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol includes low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is harmful at high levels. People can lower non-HDL cholesterol levels with diet and lifestyle changes.
High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is the beneficial type of cholesterol. People need a minimum amount of this type for good health. Non-HDL cholesterol also includes other potentially harmful types of cholesterol, including very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol.
When non-HDL cholesterol is too high, it can increase the risk of heart disease and heart attack. It is possible to lower it naturally by making dietary changes and other lifestyle adjustments. However, some people may require medications.
Read on to learn how to lower non-HDL cholesterol through diet, supplements, exercise, lifestyle changes, and medication.
The cholesterol in food is
A person who is trying to lower their cholesterol levels may benefit from:
- Reducing saturated fat: Saturated fats should account for no more than
5–6%of a person’s daily calories. For a diet of 2,000 calories per day, this is equivalent to about 13 grams of saturated fat.
- Choosing unsaturated fats: Unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, avocado oil, and oily fish,
help reducenon-HDL cholesterol. Most fats in a person’s diet should be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.
- Increasing fiber intake: Eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains adds fiber to the diet, which may help lower cholesterol levels.
- Limiting sugar: Added sugars can be present in foods that people may assume are healthy, such as fruit juices, flavored yogurts, and granola. It is best to look for products that contain no added sugar.
- Limiting processed foods: Processed foods often contain high amounts of salt or saturated fat, both of which affect cardiovascular health.
Plant sterols and stanols
Plant sterols and stanols (PSS) are naturally occurring substances in plants. A person can get them by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. However, some manufacturers sell PSS supplements, too.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are present in fermented foods and drinks. Companies also sell them as supplements.
Since then, a number of laboratory studies have suggested that certain species of bacteria may affect cholesterol levels. However, there are no large clinical trials to prove that this approach works in humans.
People may wish to incorporate probiotic foods into a heart-healthy diet.
Some data suggest that an antioxidant called CoQ10 may improve heart health by helping the heart contract more effectively.
Taking a CoQ10 supplement along with statins may, therefore, improve heart health, but the research on this point is not conclusive.
A 2018 study found that both low intensity and moderate intensity exercise may help decrease LDL cholesterol. As exercise also improves other aspects of cardiovascular health, it is a useful addition to treatment for high cholesterol.
People who can exercise should aim to do aerobic exercise — any form of physical activity that increases the heart rate — on a regular basis. Some options include:
- brisk walking
The liver breaks alcohol down into triglycerides and cholesterol. This can cause triglyceride and cholesterol levels to rise over time, especially if a person drinks large quantities of alcohol.
Excessive alcohol consumption can also contribute to weight gain and high blood pressure. These are also risk factors for heart disease.
Smoking tobacco can also play a role in high cholesterol. Smoking makes LDL cholesterol more likely to cling to the walls of blood vessels and clog them up. It can also damage heart and lung health in other ways.
Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption can make a substantial difference to cholesterol levels and overall health.
In most cases, a doctor will prescribe a statin. Statins reduce cholesterol by blocking a liver enzyme that supports cholesterol production.
However, people with some medical conditions may benefit from other types of medication. For example, hypothyroidism may cause high cholesterol. Taking thyroid hormone may treat both the thyroid and cholesterol issues.
The time it takes to lower cholesterol depends on how high a person’s cholesterol is, what methods they use, and other factors.
Dietary changes, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, may lower cholesterol in as little as
With medication, cholesterol levels should begin dropping quickly. They will stabilize after about 6 weeks, meaning that whatever level cholesterol reaches by this time is likely the level it will remain.
Non-HDL cholesterol includes several harmful types of cholesterol, such as LDL and VLDL. High levels of non-HDL cholesterol are a risk factor for heart disease, particularly when a person also has low levels of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.
People who wish to lower their non-HDL cholesterol levels may be able to achieve this naturally with the right combination of diet, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications. If these interventions do not work, a person may need to take medication. A doctor can provide more information on the treatment options for lowering cholesterol.