How to Lower Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat-like, waxy substance that is present naturally almost everywhere in the body. To work properly your body requires some amount of cholesterol. However, too much of cholesterol in blood combines with certain other compounds and can lead to plaque formation, by sticking to the walls of your arteries. This can cause narrowing and blockage of your arteries, so you need to lower your cholesterol level.

How to Lower Cholesterol

1. Healthy Diet


Changing your dietary habits can go a long way in reducing your cholesterol levels and improving the health of your heart.



Healthy Fats

To lower your cholesterol levels, always choose healthier fats in your diet. Saturated fats presents in dairy products and red meat increase not only your total cholesterol levels but also the levels of low-density lipoprotein or the bad cholesterol. It is recommended that you should not get more than 7 percent of your daily calorie amount from saturated fats. For a healthier diet, eat leaner cuts of meat, low fat dairy products and lots of monounsaturated fats that are abundant in olive oil, peanut oil and canola oil.

Elimination of Trans Fats

Fried foods and processed foods including cookies, snack cakes and crackers are rich in trans fat. Even packages labeled as “trans fat-free” cannot be relied upon. Anything that has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per one serving is labeled as “trans fat-free”. Though this seems a small amount, it can add up from different food items. Always read the ingredients on the label and avoid products that contain partially hydrogenated oil.

Limit of Cholesterol Intake

You should limit your daily cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams per day and to 200 mg per day if you suffer from diabetes or heart disease. Organ meats, whole milk products and egg yolks are all very rich in cholesterol. Replace them with egg substitutes, skimmed milk and lean meat.

Whole Grains

Replace refined grains products with whole grain ones. Whole grains are rich in nutrients that promote healthy heart. Include whole grain breads, whole-wheat flour, whole wheat pasta and brown rice, instead of their refined counterparts in your diet.

Fruits and Vegetables

Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables as they are a rich source of dietary fiber, which helps in lowering cholesterol levels. Use seasonal fruits as snack options. Prepare casseroles, stir-fries and soups from seasonal vegetables. Limit the intake of dried fruit to about an ounce or two (a handful).

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in your diet as omega-3 fatty acids are known to lower the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are certain types of fish including salmon, herring and mackerel, walnuts, ground flaxseeds, and almonds.

Plant Stanols or Sterols

Nowadays certain foods are available that are fortified with plant stanols or sterols-compounds obtained from plant sources, which help in blocking cholesterol absorption in the body. LDL cholesterol can be reduced by more than 10 percent through eating orange juice, margarines and yogurt drinks that are fortified with plant sterols. You require at least 2 grams of plant sterol to see the results. This equals to approximately two 8-ounce (237-millileter) servings of orange juice that is fortified with plant sterol per day. The levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or the good cholesterol is not affected by such foods.

Decrease in Sodium Intake

Replace table salt with herbs and spices in cooking. Reduce your intake of foods that have high sodium content such as canned foods, sauces, salty snacks, soy sauce, cheeses, olives and pickles, French fries etc. Make a habit of reading labels and look for products that have low sodium.

2. Weight Loss


High cholesterol is contributed by excess weight, even a few pounds. You can reduce your cholesterol levels significantly by losing just 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight. Begin by changing your eating habits and dietary pattern. Replace unhealthy foods with healthier options. Include regular activity in your daily routine. This can be as simple as taking stairs instead of an elevator. Make small changes at a time and you will gradually notice the difference.

3. Regular Exercise


Exercising on almost all days of the week is helpful in lowering cholesterol levels in both obese and non obese individuals. Moreover, HDL or good cholesterol levels are raised by doing moderate physical activity regularly. Do at least 30 minutes of exercise daily after consulting your physician.

4. Quitting Smoking


If you smoke, then quitting smoking can be an important factor in improving your HDL cholesterol levels. It also has other benefits including lowering of blood pressure, and causing a decrease in heart attack and heart disease risk.

5. Limit of Alcohol


Drinking alcohol in moderation is found to be associated with higher levels of HDL cholesterol. However, alcohol is not recommended for anyone who is a non drinker as the benefits of drinking are not that strong. In case you drink alcohol, always limit your alcohol intake. The recommended and safe amount in healthy adults is up to one drink a day for females of all ages and for males of age greater than 65 and up to two drinks a day for men of age 65 and younger. Drinking large quantities of alcohol is associated with development of serious medical illnesses such as hypertension, stroke and heart attack.

6. Drinking Green Tea


Replace sodas and other beverages containing sugar with a healthier alternative such as green tea. Green tea has been shown to contain compounds that help in lowering the levels of both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in research studies conducted on both humans and animals.

7. Uses of Medications


Individuals with high cardiovascular risk factors can opt for cholesterol lowering drugs along with the lifestyle modifications. However, medicines should always be taken under medical guidance. Statins are the popular cholesterol lowering drugs that can lower LDL cholesterol levels by almost 20 to 50%. Other medicines that are used include niacin, fibrates and bile acid resins.

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