Take Steps to Lower Cholesterol

You can lower your high cholesterol by changing your daily habits. Ask your doctor what changes you need to make. You can expect their advice to include tips like these:

Make exercise a habit. It cuts your "bad" (LDL) cholesterol level and raises your "good" (HDL) cholesterol level. It's also good for your blood pressure and strengthens your heart. Aim to get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week (like brisk walking), or 1 hour and 15 minutes of harder exercise (such as jogging) per week.

Get to a healthy weight. If you're overweight, slimming down helps get your cholesterol levels back on track. The best way to do this is to make changes you can live with long-term, instead of going on a crash diet.

Favor "good" fats. Choose unsaturated fats, which don't raise cholesterol levels. You can find unsaturated fats in foods like nuts, fish, vegetable oil, olive oil, canola and sunflower oils, and avocados. Limit saturated fats, which you find in animal products, and don't eat processed meats.

Avoid artificial trans fat. Check labels on baked goods, snack foods, frozen pizza, margarine, coffee creamer, vegetable shortenings, and refrigerated dough (such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls). Keep in mind that items that say they have "0 g trans fat" can actually have a tiny bit of trans fat in each serving, which adds up. So check the ingredients list. "Partially hydrogenated" means it has trans fat in it.

Eat fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol level. You get fiber from plant foods, like whole grains, beans, peas, and many fruits and vegetables.

Limit sugar. Eating and drinking too much sugar raises your triglyceride levels. High levels of triglycerides make heart disease more likely. Check food and drink labels to see how much sugar has been added, apart from sugars that are naturally part of a food. The average woman should get no more than 5 teaspoons (or 80 calories) per day from added sugars, and men shouldn't get more than 9 teaspoons per day (or 144) calories, according to the American Heart Association.

Follow your doctor's guidelines. Some people need medicine, as well as lifestyle changes, to control their cholesterol.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on January 14, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

eMedicineHealth: "Take Steps to Reduce Cholesterol."

National Guideline Clearinghouse.

PubMed.com.

CDC: "Healthy Weight -- it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle!" "Know the Facts About High Cholesterol," "How much physical activity do I need?"

FDA: "Questions and Answers Regarding Trans Fat."

American Heart Association: "Whole Grains and Fiber."

Johnson, R. Circulation, Sept. 15, 2009.

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