Your Lower Cholesterol Toolbox
Get the tools you need to help lower cholesterol -- and reduce your risk of disease -- starting now.
Diet to Lower Cholesterol continued...
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 York City.
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.
Exercise to Lower Cholesterol
Regular physical activity is key to keeping your cholesterol low. Studies have found that even moderate exercise is enough to boost HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. In a recent study of young and middle-aged women in Spain, researchers found that the more calories a woman burned through moderate exercise, the lower her LDL level and the higher her HDL level.
Exercise, in combination with a healthy diet, is also important because while a low-fat lower calorie diet helps lower total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol, one study showed it can also drop good HDL cholesterol by 7% over a year. That same study showed an increase in good HDL cholesterol (and a decrease in LDL and total cholesterol) for those who walked or jogged about 8 miles a week.
Weight Loss to Lower Cholesterol
Both a healthy diet and regular physical exercise can lead to another important tool in lower cholesterol: weight loss.
Excess weight tends to increase your LDL cholesterol level. If you are overweight and have high LDL cholesterol, losing weight may help you lower it. Weight loss also helps to lower triglycerides (another form of fat in your blood and one which you should aim to keep below 150 mg/dL) and raise HDL ("good") cholesterol levels.