Your Lower Cholesterol Toolbox
Get the tools you need to help lower cholesterol -- and reduce your risk of disease -- starting now.
cholesterol is one of the best ways to protect yourself from heart
attack and stroke. A fat-like substance found in the blood, cholesterol can build up and form deposits in your
arteries. These cholesterol deposits can clog arteries -- or in some cases
completely block -- the passage of blood and oxygen to the heart. The result,
for hundreds of thousands of people every year, is chest pain, heart attack, or
other cardiovascular problems.
There are two kinds of cholesterol: HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL
(low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. HDL is often called the "good" kind of
cholesterol because it helps remove unneeded cholesterol from the body. LDL is
the "bad" cholesterol; it's made up primarily of fat and is a particular risk
factor for heart
So when you set out to lower cholesterol, you need to know your HDL number,
your LDL number, and your total cholesterol number (which is not the
total of your HDL and LDL
Total Cholesterol (mg/dL)
Best: Below 200
Best: Below 130
High risk: 240
High risk: Below 40
High: 160 or above
If any of your cholesterol numbers are in the high risk category, you're at
an increased risk for heart disease -- which may lead to heart attack.
The good news is you have several options to help you get back in the
cholesterol safety zone. These four options can all work separately -- or
together -- to lower cholesterol, and keep it under control.
- Weight loss
Diet to Lower Cholesterol
The body gets cholesterol in two ways: by making it and from food. Most of the
cholesterol we eat comes from animal fats found in foods such as meat, butter,
margarine, milk, and fish. One of the easiest ways to lower cholesterol is to
lower your intake of certain kinds of fats.
Just as there is "good"
cholesterol and "bad" cholesterol, there are "good" fats and "bad" fats. To
keep your cholesterol low, your total dietary fat intake shouldn't be more than
25% to 35% of your diet -- and most of those fats should be the good kind, like
vegetable fats (monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats), and omega-3
fatty acids, found mostly in fish.
To help lower LDL cholesterol,
you'll want to avoid or reduce saturated fats (usually found in animal products
like meats, eggs, and dairy), and trans fats, which are formed when hydrogen is
added to vegetable oil (think French fries and doughnuts).
"A quick way to tell the difference between animal fats and vegetable fats
is that animal fats are usually solid at room temperature, while vegetable fats
are liquid at room temperature," says Antonio Gotto, MD, the Stephen and
Suzanne Weiss Dean at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, in New
So fill up on the healthy fats found in vegetable oils, nuts, avocados, and
salmon, and cut back on higher-fat foods like red meat, whole milk, and of
course, those tempting chips and pastries.