How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
Talk with your healthcare provider about the best way to lower your cholesterol. Some people only need some simple lifestyle changes like eating less saturated fat. Others need lifestyle changes plus medication. People with medical conditions that affect their cholesterol may need a more complex approach. Talk with your provider about your medical history, family history and lifestyle factors. Together, youll come up with a plan for lowering your cholesterol numbers.
Remember that even the best plans take time to work. And we all have setbacks. Its OK to struggle, and its also OK to tell your provider when a plan isnt working. Sometimes even the strictest lifestyle changes dont lower your cholesterol numbers enough. Thats because most of your bodys cholesterol is produced by your liver. So, many other factors come into play that are out of your control and have nothing to do with whats on your dinner plate.
Take things one step at a time, and remember that having high cholesterol isnt a personal failure. Its a result of many small changes quietly happening inside your body. Take control of what you can, but know that medications and other medical interventions are there to fill in the gaps.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/24/2022.
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Treatment For High Cholesterol
Making lifestyle changes, especially changing some of the foods you eat, and regular physical activity, are very important to help reduce high LDL cholesterol.
- Move more. Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your heart health. Increasing your physical activity from as little as 10 minutes a day to the Australian governments recommended 30 to 45 minutes a day, five or more days of the week, can help manage your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Quitting smoking reduces the risk of heart disease and can help reduce cholesterol levels. The most effective way to stop smoking is with a combination of stop-smoking medicines and support from a service like Quitline . Speaking to your GP is also a great first step.
- Drinking alcohol doesnt have any health benefits. Alcohol contributesunnecessary kilojoules and is of low nutritional value. Alcohol is not a necessary or recommended part of a heart-healthy eating pattern.If you do drink, to reduce your risk of alcohol-related harm, healthy women and men should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day.
- You may also need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines to help manage your cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about finding the most appropriate treatment for you.
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Your Test Results: A Preview
Your test results will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood . Your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol are among numerous factors your doctor can use to predict your lifetime or 10-year risk for a heart attack or stroke. Your doctor will also consider other risk factors, such as age, family history, smoking status, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Lipid profile or lipid panel is a blood test that will give you results for your HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and total blood cholesterol.
Lowering Cholesterol Through Diet
To help you achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol levels, your doctor may recommend changes to your diet.
For example, they may advise you to:
- limit your intake of foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats
- choose lean sources of protein, such as chicken, fish, and legumes
- eat a wide variety of high fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- opt for baked, broiled, steamed, grilled, and roasted foods instead of fried foods
- avoid fast food and sugary, pre-packaged options when possible
Foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, or trans fats include:
- red meat, organ meats, egg yolks, and high fat dairy products
- processed foods made with cocoa butter or palm oil
- deep-fried foods, such as potato chips, onion rings, and fried chicken
- certain baked goods, such as some cookies and muffins
Eating fish and other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids may also help lower your LDL levels. For example, salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich sources of omega-3s. Walnuts, almonds, ground flaxseeds, and avocados also contain omega-3s.
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How To Lower Your Cholesterol
If youve been told that you have high cholesterol or you just want to prevent it what can you do?
There are several ways to manage it, including:
Medication: Depending on your overall cardiovascular disease risk, you might be treated with a cholesterol-lowering medication, such as a statin. The decision to use a statin is based on a womans overall risk for heart attack and stroke including all these factors and the LDL cholesterol value.
If you already have vascular disease or evidence of atherosclerosis, or if you are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, a statin for prevention is strongly recommended because this treats the plaque in the arteries, and lowers LDL cholesterol, Michos says.
Diet and lifestyle:Diet and lifestyle are very important to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Even for women who are recommended to take cholesterol-lowering medications, a healthy lifestyle helps these drugs work better, says Michos.
Heres how to maintain a lifestyle that promotes healthy cholesterol levels:
Add these to your shopping list:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and albacore tuna
- Nuts, including walnuts, pecans, almonds and hazelnuts
- Olive oil to drizzle lightly over your salads and vegetables
While nobody wants to have high cholesterol, there are plenty of ways to keep it in check. With regular checkups and attention to what you eat, its possible to manage your cholesterol and blood fats to keep your heart healthy, says Michos.
How Much Saturated Fat Is Too Much
No more than a third of your energy should come from fat, which means a maximum of 70g per day for a woman and 90g for a man. Saturated fats should make up no more than a third of this, so a maximun of 20g for a woman and 30g for a man.
Saturated fats are found in animal products, such as red meat and dairy, and foods that are made with them, such as pastries, cakes, chocolate and biscuits. They’re also found in some plant foods, including coconut oil and palm oil.
To cut back on saturated fat, replace foods that are high in them with foods containing more unsaturated fat, such as nuts, seeds, olive oil and rapeseed oil. If you’re not following the vegan Portfolio Diet, oily fish such as salmon and mackerel is a good alternative to red meat.
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High Cholesterol Foods Which To Eat Which To Avoid
Cholesterol is arguably one of the most misunderstood substances.
For decades, people avoided healthy yet cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs, fearing that these foods would increase their risk of heart disease.
However, recent research shows that, for most people, eating healthy high cholesterol foods is not harmful to health. Whats more, some cholesterol-rich foods are loaded with important nutrients that are lacking in many peoples diets.
This article explains why cholesterol in foods shouldnt be feared and lists 7 healthy high cholesterol foods and 4 to avoid.
Here are 7 high cholesterol foods that are incredibly nutritious.
Tips For Managing Cholesterol
You can keep your cholesterol levels in a healthy range and still eat cheese and other foods with cholesterol. That being said, some people find it difficult to self-regulate. You may want to take a more regimented approach. The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends following whats called the , which is often supervised by a doctor.
It is made up of three lifestyle components:
With diet, the main goal is to decrease the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol you consume daily. Along with this, youll want to add plant stanols and sterols, which fight cholesterol. Youll also want to increase your intake of soluble fiber. Some people have success by shifting their diet to Mediterranean, Paleo, or plant-based from more traditional forms of eating.
Physical activity and weight management can lower your numbers as well. Working out regularly helps with weight loss and can raise your good cholesterol levels. It also strengthens your heart and lungs. Reaching a healthy weight may lower your bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
Switching over to a different type of diet can help you reach your goal weight more quickly. In
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Myth: I Would Be Able To Feel It If I Had High Cholesterol
Fact: High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. You may not know you have unhealthy cholesterol levels until it is too latewhen you have a heart attack or stroke. Thats why its so important to get your cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years.1,2 Learn more about getting your cholesterol checked.
Occasionally, some people develop yellowish growths on their skin called xanthomas, which are cholesterol-rich deposits. People with xanthomas may have high cholesterol levels.
Have Your Cholesterol Levels Tested
As for how often a person should have their cholesterol levels tested, for many people, it does not need to be a yearly test, said Dr. Kirley. The guidelines have been evolving about this in terms of what age you need to start getting your cholesterol levels tested and how frequently.
For most adults, its good to have them checked at least once so you have a general idea about where your levels may be and what your risk may be, she added. And then for people who have risk factors like high blood pressure or older age, we may start checking every few years or so.
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What Are The Kinds Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol in the blood doesn’t move through the body on its own. It combines with proteins to travel through the bloodstream. Cholesterol and protein traveling together are called lipoproteins.
The two main types of cholesterol are:
LDL cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol.” This type of cholesterol can combine with proteins and other substances in the blood to make plaque. Cholesterol plaques can buildup and cause blood vessels to become stiffer, narrower, or blocked.
HDL cholesterol, or “good cholesterol,” doesn’t clog arteries. HDL cholesterol removes cholesterol from the blood vessels and carries it back to the liver, where it is broken down and removed from the body.
Here’s an easy way to remember which is which: LDL starts with “L” for “lousy.” HDL starts with “H” for “healthy.”
High levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol increase a person’s risk of having heart disease.
What Doctors Wish Patients Knew About High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is a common health condition in the United States. In fact, nearly 94 million adults over the age of 20 have what could be considered borderline high cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet because this condition often presents without symptoms, many are not aware they have high cholesterol until they visit their doctor.
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Ldl Cholesterol Or Bad Cholesterol
LDL cholesterol is often called bad cholesterol. It carries cholesterol to your arteries. If your levels of LDL cholesterol are too high, it can build up on the walls of your arteries.
This buildup is also known as cholesterol plaque. This plaque can narrow your arteries, limit your blood flow, and raise your risk of blood clots. If a blood clot blocks an artery in your heart or brain, it can cause a heart attack or stroke.
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Nutrition And Dietary Supplements
In addition to eating a healthy diet, low in saturated fat, with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, some specific foods and supplements may help lower cholesterol.
Fiber: Several studies show that soluble fiber lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Fiber can also help you lose weight because it makes you feel full. Your doctor will encourage you to get more fiber in your diet. You may also take a fiber supplement. Men should get 30 to 38 g of fiber per day. Women should get 21 to 25 g per day.
Beta-glucan is a type of soluble fiber found in oat bran and other plants. It slightly reduces LDL cholesterol, which is why oat bran is touted as a cholesterol-lowering food.
Soy: Many studies have shown that eating soy protein , rather than animal meat, helps lower blood cholesterol levels, especially when you eat a diet low in saturated fat. One study found that as little as 20 g of soy protein per day is effective in reducing total cholesterol, and that 40 to 50 g shows faster effects . Another study found that soy can help reduce triglyceride levels. The AHA recommends that people with elevated total and LDL cholesterol add soy to their daily diet, and that soy is safe when consumed as part of your regular diet. But talk to your doctor before you take soy supplements. Soy isoflavones may have estrogen-like effects in the body, which might lead to an increased risk of breast and other cancers.
Cholesterol As A Risk Factor
Most studies of young and middle-aged men have found high cholesterol to be a risk factor for coronary heart disease, seemingly a contradiction to the idea that high cholesterol is protective. Why is high cholesterol a risk factor in young and middle-aged men? A likely explanation is that men of that age are often in the midst of their professional career. High cholesterol may therefore reflect mental stress, a well-known cause of high cholesterol and also a risk factor for heart disease. Again, high cholesterol is not necessarily the direct cause but may only be a marker. High cholesterol in young and middle-aged men could, for instance, reflect the bodys need for more cholesterol because cholesterol is the building material of many stress hormones. Any possible protective effect of high cholesterol may therefore be counteracted by the negative influence of a stressful life on the vascular system.
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Natural Remedies And Lowering Cholesterol
Its very important to talk to your health professional before using any:
- natural remedies
- or complementary therapies.
Sometimes they can do more harm than good. They may interact with any medication that youre taking, which can be dangerous. They can also make your medication less effective. Your doctor needs to know everything that you are taking to ensure that the combination is safe.
If youve been prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication, make sure you take it as directed by your doctor. This is one of the most effective ways to keep your cholesterol levels down.