Understanding Cholesterol Problems: Prevention

Reviewed by Suzanne R. Steinbaum, MD on August 01, 2019

Prevent high cholesterol and lower your odds of getting heart disease with these tips:

  • Keep your weight in check. If you're not sure whether your weight is in a healthy place, ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI). A normal BMI is 18 to 25. If losing some weight would help, ask your doctor for advice on what types of activities you can do.
  • Avoid all trans fats, as well as junk food.
  • Exercise moderately for 150 minutes each week or do a more intensive workout 75 minutes a week. Push yourself, if you can; moderate exercise is better than none at all.
  • Quit smoking.

How to Follow a Low-Cholesterol Diet

Make meat lean. Cut back on red meats that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. When you do indulge, eat only lean meats with very little visible fat.

Your store's butcher may be able to help you select lower-fat cuts of various meats. Examples of lean beef include London broil, eye of round, and filet mignon. When eating red meat, enjoy unprocessed meats rather than processed meats like bacon and sausage, which are linked to greater odds of developing heart disease and diabetes.


Remove the skin from poultry. That's where much of the fat is.

Eat more seafood. It usually has less fat than other meat. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fatty fish (like salmon, tuna, or mackerel) each week for heart health. Those fish are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for you.

Limit saturated fat, including whole-fat dairy products, mayonnaise, and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils or fats (such as stick margarine). These products are usually high in saturated fats and may also contain trans fats, which can raise your cholesterol level.

Go liquid. For cooking, replace saturated fats that are solid at room temperature (such as butter and shortening) with liquid monounsaturated fats such as olive, canola, and flaxseed oils. There’s evidence that eating moderate amounts of monounsaturated fat -- found in such foods as nuts, seeds, and avocados -- may actually lower LDL cholesterol.

Favor fiber. You get fiber from plant foods. Good sources include grapefruits, apples, beans and other legumes, barley, carrots, cabbage, and oatmeal.

Get more value from plants. Foods rich in plant sterols such as nuts can help lower cholesterol. Aim for two servings a day. Plant sterols are also added to some soft margarines, granola bars, yogurts, and orange juice.

WebMD Medical Reference



American Heart Association. 


National Cholesterol Education Program.

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