Skip to main content

How to lower your cholesterol - High cholesterol

There are things you can do yourself to help reduce your cholesterol, like eating less fatty foods and being more active.

Eat less fatty food

To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat.

You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat.

Check labels on food to see what type of fat it has in it.

Try to eat more:

  • oily fish, like mackerel and salmon
  • brown rice, bread and pasta
  • nuts and seeds
  • fruits and vegetables

Try to eat less:

  • meat pies, sausages and fatty meat
  • butter, lard and ghee
  • cream and hard cheese, like cheddar
  • cakes and biscuits
  • food that contains coconut oil or palm oil

Find out more about how to eat less saturated fat

Exercise more

Aim to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week.

Some good things to try when starting out include:

  • walking – try to walk fast enough so your heart starts beating faster
  • swimming
  • cycling

Try a few different exercises to find something you like doing. You're more likely to keep doing it if you enjoy it.

Find out more about ways to get active

Stop smoking

Smoking can raise your cholesterol and make you more likely to have serious problems like heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

If you want to stop smoking, you can get help and support from:

  • your GP
  • the NHS Stop Smoking Service – your GP can refer you or you can ring the helpline on 0300 123 1044 (England only)

They can give you useful tips and advice about ways to stop cravings.

Find out more about how to stop smoking

Cut down on alcohol

Try to:

  • avoid drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week
  • have several drink-free days each week
  • avoid drinking lots of alcohol in a short time (binge drinking)

Ask your GP for help and advice if you're struggling to cut down.

Find out more about where to get alcohol support

Page last reviewed: 15 April 2019
Next review due: 15 April 2022