Lowering cholesterol takes effort. It requires a multi-faceted approach centered around diet, lifestyle, and, if needed, medication.
But how long does it take to lower cholesterol?
Longer than you might hope.
Even though it can take months to achieve a noticeable improvement in cholesterol with hard work, there is a massive payoff: routines you develop in your quest to reduce cholesterol can translate into long-lasting effects.
In essence, the proper adaptations have the potential to leave your struggle with high cholesterol in the past.
Following a heart-healthy diet like the Mediterranean or DASH diets, in conjunction with regular activity, should lead to noticeable results in about three months. Of course, there will be variations between individuals, but that timeline can offer good guidance.
To achieve results, of course, you have to stick to the routine.
Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, reducing saturated fat, and increasing dietary fiber can all help. For most, this involves eating far more plant-based foods and limiting refined and processed foods.
Some general dietary guidelines to follow that may help lower cholesterol include cutting saturated fat to less than 10 grams per day, eating 30 grams of fiber per day, and making sure at least 10g of fiber intake comes from insoluble fiber.
Most plant-based foods feature both soluble and insoluble fiber, but good sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, nuts, fruits, and veggies.
DASH and Mediterranean diets are great sources of fiber, micronutrients, healthy fats, and other foods that can reduce or prevent high cholesterol.
These methods work as long as you’re sticking to them. Going hard on them for three months to get cholesterol down, then going back to your previous diet and lifestyle, will result in cholesterol moving back up.
If stuck to, however, the benefits will likely compound and last well into the future.
What does good cholesterol look like? It really all depends on where you start. But you can use these numbers to help guide your path and treatment techniques.
- Good: 199 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or lower
- Borderline: 200-239 mg/dL
- High: 240 mg/dL or higher
- Good: 100 mg/dL or lower
- Borderline: 130-159 mg/dL
- High: 160 mg/dL or higher
- Good: 60 mg/dL
- Low: 39 mg/dL
Keep up to date with cholesterol levels and consult your doctor about all of your treatment plans.