Lowering cholesterol levels can be challenging at times, especially when you are not aware of the symptoms associated with high cholesterol or the diseases that may arise from high cholesterol levels. But what exactly is cholesterol?

According to the Mayo Clinic, cholesterol is a waxy substance that is located in the fats (lipids) in the blood. Although the body does need cholesterol to function properly and build healthy cells, high cholesterol can put you at risk of heart disease. Over time, fatty deposits can develop in the blood vessels and eventually make it difficult for blood to flow through the arteries.

While exercise and a healthy diet are often recommended to regulate high cholesterol, oftentimes doctors will prescribe statin drugs that are used to lower “bad” cholesterol. However, there is significant evidence that suggests statin drugs can cause a series of health issues, including muscle soreness, fatigue, liver damage, and even type 2 diabetes. In 2010, it was reported that one in four Americans over the age of 45 were using statin drugs as a way to treat cholesterol.

Although statin medications like atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Altoprev), pitavastatin (Livalo), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simbastatin (Zocor) are helpful in reducing cholesterol levels, sometimes simple dietary and lifestyle changes are enough to make a world of difference.

Try to regulate your sun exposure in order to boost your vitamin D intake and lower cholesterol levels naturally. Reduce, or eliminate, grains and sugars from your daily diet, and instead opt for healthy foods such as avocados, fish, and healthy oils. Implement daily exercise, avoid smoking or excessive alcohol, and be sure to get plenty of sleep.

Here are 9 steps to implement in your daily life to reduce cholesterol levels.

9. Get Enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D

This vitamin has been found to be extremely beneficial for normalizing your cholesterol levels and preventing heart disease.

8. Cut Down or Eliminate Grains and Sugars

Eliminate Sugars

Include more fresh leafy greens and vegetables in your diet instead of filling up on grains and sugars that are not beneficial.

7. Get Enough Fish Oil

Fish Oil

Fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and herring should be consumed ideally twice per week; you can also supplement with fish oil. High levels of fish oils can lower your triglyceride levels and increase your good cholesterol.

Related: 14 Adverse Effects of Fish Oil Supplements They Don’t Tell You About

6. Fortify Your Diet

Fortify Your Diet

Strengthen your diet with heart-healthy foods such as olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, organic eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats.

5. Exercise Regularly

Exercise Regularly

Even a 20-minute power-walk will make a significant difference in your health. Keep active and get your blood pumping.

4. Reduce Stress Exposure

Reduce Stress

Try your hand at stress reduction techniques to keep your stress levels down. Try taking part in techniques such as meditation or yoga.

3. Stop Smoking and Drinking

Smoking And Drinking

Stopping smoking brings immediate and long-term benefits to cholesterol levels, and lowers your heart attack risk. Glucose levels will drop around 16 percent within the first month just by not drinking, and so do sugar levels.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Get Enough Sleep

Researchers discovered that too little sleep or too much sleep can have a negative impact on lipid levels. Sleeping less than five hours a night can put you at risk for high triglycerides.

Related: Can’t Sleep? Try These 10 Vitamins

1. Take Red Yeast Rice

Red Yeast Rice

Red yeast rice comes from traditional Chinese medicine and contains monacolin K, which is similar to the active ingredient in some statins. An easy way to add it to your daily routine is through supplements.

Related: 20 Foods That Help Lower Cholesterol


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