If you just found out that you have high cholesterol, you might be wondering what your options are to lower it.

Cholesterol can be lowered using prescription medication, which is often the first-line recommended treatment. Extremely high cholesterol needs to be addressed with a prescription treatment plan as soon as possible.

However, if your cholesterol is considered mildly or moderately high, you may be able to lower it without medication. This article will explain the strategies you can try at home to bring down your cholesterol numbers.

It’s normal to want to try to control cholesterol with lifestyle choices, diet, and supplements as the first line of treatment rather than starting medication.

Steps you can take to lower your cholesterol without medication include the following six tips:

1. Avoid trans and saturated fats

Eating foods that contain saturated or trans fats can increase your cholesterol level. The American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fat intake to less than 6 percent of your daily calories.

2. Eat lots of soluble fiber

Upping your daily intake of soluble fiber can decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Taking psyllium supplements and eating oatmeal for breakfast are easy ways to increase the amount of soluble fiber you consume every day. You can also load up on fruits and veggies to get that fiber intake even higher.

3. Exercise

If you’re considered medically overweight, your chances of having high cholesterol increase. But it’s also important to mention that the idea that thin people can’t have high cholesterol is a misconception.

Cardiovascular exercise can help to keep your weight at a healthy range and can also boost your heart health. Walking, jogging, biking, and swimming are all exercises that can help lower cholesterol, especially if you do them three times per week or more.

4. Cut down on your alcohol intake

When you drink alcohol, your liver breaks it down into triglycerides and cholesterol in your body. Alcohol consumption can also raise your blood pressure and make it harder to keep your weight in a healthy range.

Cutting down on beer, wine, and liquor can be a simple first step to lowering your cholesterol.

5. Try fish oil supplements

Fish oil supplements contain omega 3-chain fatty acids. These acids may help lower triglycerides, although research is mixed. Taking fish oil may not directly lower LDL, but it can have other benefits, such as lowering inflammation in your body.

6. Take a garlic supplement

There’s some evidence to suggest that taking garlic supplements can moderately reduce LDL cholesterol.

As early as 2000, research suggested that garlic may help to reduce your body’s absorption of cholesterol and lower triglycerides in your blood. But more research is needed to definitively understand how garlic is linked to lower cholesterol levels.

You can find garlic supplements at any health food store or simply start using more raw garlic in your cooking at home.

You might not want to take medication to bring your cholesterol down for several reasons.

Statins are a type of medication used to manage high cholesterol. The side effects of statins may be seen by some as worse than the risks of having high cholesterol. These side effects can include:

  • muscle pain
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • sluggish digestion
  • low blood platelet count

Statin use may also lead you to develop other conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. If you’re already at a higher risk for developing these types of conditions, you may want to talk with a healthcare professional about avoiding statins if possible.

There aren’t any specific symptoms to indicate that you might have high cholesterol. Many people with high cholesterol don’t know that they have it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should get your cholesterol levels checked:

  • every 5 years after you turn age 20
  • more often if you have a family history of high cholesterol or cardiovascular conditions

Cholesterol is made by your liver. It’s a waxy substance that your body uses to build cells, among other processes.

Eating fatty foods and oils can cause your liver to make extra cholesterol. It can also come from the meat and dairy products in your diet.

When you have a cholesterol screening, the levels of two types of cholesterol will be reported in your results: LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol is what’s known as “bad” cholesterol. High LDL can also be linked to high triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood that comes from your diet.

If you have too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up into a hard, waxy substance in your arteries, called plaque. When this happens, your arteries become narrow and less flexible.

High cholesterol is one of the biggest risk factors for cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease and stroke. But while HDL cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol, and not having enough of it can be a problem, too.

If you have high cholesterol, chances are that lifestyle changes can make a big difference in bringing it down. Diet and exercise can lower your cholesterol by about 20 to 30 percent.

If home remedies, diet, and exercise aren’t enough to get your LDL cholesterol to a safe level, medication is the next step in keeping your heart healthy. Medication can bring your cholesterol down even further, if needed.

Any treatment plan for cholesterol management should be made in partnership with a healthcare professional. A doctor who knows your family history and your personal health history will be able to advise you on the best treatments for your situation.