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Does sunlight reduce cholesterol? © Getty

Does sunlight reduce cholesterol?

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Here comes the sun…but catching some rays this summer may not be the most effective way to reduce cholesterol levels.

Asked by: Simon Bartlett, via email


When it’s exposed to sunlight, our skin makes vitamin D. One theory is that because cholesterol is used in vitamin D synthesis, levels of cholesterol will reduce as more vitamin D is made.

One study showed that doing outdoor activities such as gardening in the summer did indeed reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. This did not occur during winter. However, the reduction of cholesterol is so small that there would not be any meaningful health benefit.

So if sunlight isn’t the solution, why not adopt a healthy Mediterranean diet? There is good evidence that this reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering the ‘bad’ type of cholesterol, responsible for clogging up our arteries. Eating more vegetables, fruits, nuts and olive oil could bring some sunshine into your diet!

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