What Life Changes Can You Make to Lower LDL Cholestrol?

What Life Changes Can You Make to Lower LDL Cholestrol?

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Eat less red meat and saturated fat to lower your LDL cholesterol.

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Having a high level of LDL, or low density lipoprotein, cholesterol can clog your arteries and lead to heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., accounting for roughly 2,200 deaths every day. Fortunately, there are many diet and lifestyle changes that you can implement to lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Limit Saturated Fat and Trans Fat

Your body produces cholesterol from the saturated fat and trans fat that you ingest. In general, the more of these fats you eat, the higher your cholesterol, and the fewer you eat, the better your cholesterol level. Limit your intake of saturated fats found in animal products such as red meat, butter, cheese, and full-fat dairy. Aim to completely eliminate trans fat, or limit it to 2 grams per day if you are on a 2,000-calorie diet. Processed foods containing partially hydrogenated oil, such as crackers, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, french fries and some margarine, contain trans fat. The Harvard School of Public Health suggests choosing heart-healthy vegetable oils, such as olive oil and canola oil, for cooking.

Limit Cholesterol Intake

Your LDL cholesterol may also be elevated from consuming too much dietary cholesterol. While you need some cholesterol in your body, it's not an essential part of your diet. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your cholesterol intake to less than 200 milligrams per day. Some of the foods highest in cholesterol are eggs, shrimp, squid, liver and veal, which contain from 135 to 389 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. Lobster, halibut, salmon, oysters, beef, ham, pork, chicken and dairy products contribute cholesterol as well. In addition to limiting your intake of foods high in cholesterol, you should increase your intake of vegetarian proteins, such as beans and nuts, which are cholesterol free.

Increase Fiber Intake

Getting more dietary fiber in your diet may also help lower your LDL cholesterol, according to The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. During digestion, cholesterol is released into your digestive tract in the form of bile acids. Normally, a portion of the bile, and therefore the cholesterol, gets reabsorbed into your body. However, when soluble fiber is present, it binds to bile acids and removes them from your body in waste, helping to lower your cholesterol level. To increase your fiber intake, eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

Increase Physical Activity

In addition to dietary lifestyle changes, increasing your physical activity can help to lower your cholesterol level as well. Aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity per week to help lower your cholesterol. Try walking, biking, swimming, jogging or hiking at a moderate pace. Breaking up the exercise into 30-minute sessions spread out over five days a week can help you gradually build endurance. Exercise also helps promote weight loss. reports that losing even 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help lower your cholesterol level.


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