How to Prevent High Cholesterol Levels

There’s a lot of talk about how to lower high cholesterol levels, but not about what to do in order to prevent high cholesterol. There are things that you can do in order to keep your cholesterol under control, beginning with making a few lifestyle changes.

Add Exercise to Your Daily Routine

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Exercise has many heart-healthy benefits including helping you to prevent high cholesterol and heart disease. The good news is that you don’t have to be a star athlete to get the benefits of exercise. There are many types of exercises you can do—from low-impact exercises to aerobic exercises—and all have shown some benefit in keeping your body limber and your cholesterol levels low. If you already have high cholesterol levels, exercise can be very helpful in preventing your cholesterol levels from increasing further.

Learn the Difference Between Saturated and Unsaturated Fats

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Unsaturated fats, saturated fats, trans fats—what do these words mean? When it comes to your heart health, they are important to understand. While some fats can be helpful in keeping your cholesterol levels low, other can raise your cholesterol levels and place you at a higher risk of getting heart disease later on. Knowing which fats can sabotage your cholesterol levels can help you to prevent heart disease later on.

Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet

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Eating low-fat foods has been popular for decades because it can help you to lose weight, but not all fats are unhealthy (see above) and body weight isn’t the only thing that matters for heart health. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains are just a few of the delicious foods you can eat on a heart-healthy diet. Seafood and lean meats can also be part of a healthy diet, and herbs and spices can replace salt. There are heart-healthy diet plans out there just in case you need a helping hand to assist you.

If You Smoke, Stop Now

Man holding a heart in one hand and crushing cigarettes in the other
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When we think of smoking, we mostly think about the damage it can do to our lungs. However, the damage isn’t limited to the respiratory system. In fact, smoking can increase your cholesterol levels and contribute to heart disease. If you quit smoking now, you can prevent this from occurring, and reverse the damage that you have done.

Reduce Stress in Your Daily Life

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Although stress is important in helping us escape from bad situations, persistent stress could promote heart disease. Some research has found that recurrent stress could also have an effect on your cholesterol levels. Learning how to cope with stress in your life could help keep your cholesterol levels in check and your heart healthy.

Other Ways to Prevent High Cholesterol

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There are many other ways you can prevent high cholesterol. Losing weight, limiting alcohol, and paying attention to medications that can raise cholesterol are a few more of the important ways you can prevent your cholesterol levels and your risk of heart disease from increasing.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Lichtenstein AH, Appel LJ, Vadiveloo M, et al. 2021 Dietary guidance to improve cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2021;144(23):e472-e487. doi:10.1161/cir.0000000000001031

  3. Chadwick AC, Holme RL, Chen Y, et al. Acrolein impairs the cholesterol transport functions of high density lipoproteins. PLoS One. 2015;10(4):e0123138. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123138

  4. Gawlik KS, Melnyk BM, Tan A. Associations between stress and cardiovascular disease risk factors among Million Hearts priority populations. Am J Health Promot. 2019;33(7):1063-1066. doi:10.1177/0890117119847619

By Jennifer Moll, PharmD
Jennifer Moll, MS, PharmD, is a pharmacist actively involved in educating patients about the importance of heart disease prevention.