Recommendations for Lowering Cholesterol
You've probably had your blood cholesterol measured at one time or another. Cholesterol is a type of fat found in the blood. Your body produces enough cholesterol to meet your needs but you can also consume cholesterol in the foods you eat.
LDL Cholesterol - the "Bad Cholesterol"
There are two main types of cholesterol - LDL and HDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can build up in your arteries, leading to atherosclerosis. People with high LDL cholesterol are at a greater risk of heart disease. Find advice for lowering cholesterol on our HeartMart blog - it's updated weekly!
What is an optimal level of LDL cholesterol?
- Optimal - <100 mg/dL
- Near or above optimal - 100-129 mg/dL
- Borderline high - 130-159
- High - 160-189
- Very high 190 and above
(Source: Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations Revision 2006: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee. Lichtenstein AH et al. Circulation 2006;114;82-96)
Improving LDL Cholesterol
You can improve LDL cholesterol through diet or drug therapy. The three most important changes you can make to your diet to reduce LDL cholesterol are to eat fewer foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.
Saturated fat raises blood cholesterol and is found in greatest amounts in high-fat meat and dairy products.
Trans fat also raises LDL cholesterol. Most of the trans fat in our diet comes from processed foods that contain hydrogenated vegetable oil such as some margarine spreads, baked goods, and fried foods. In the supermarket, check food labels. Trans fat is now part of the mandatory list of nutrients on the nutrition facts panel. Another significant source of trans fat is fried foods from fast food and other restaurants. When eating out, reduce your intake of fried foods like french fries and fried chicken.
Dietary cholesterol can also raise LDL cholesterol levels but not as much as dietary saturated fat or trans fat. Dietary cholesterol is found only in animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy products.