10 Easy Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States with about 2,200 Americans dying from the problem each day.

Too much LDL ("bad") cholesterol or not enough HDL ("good") cholesterol in your blood can put you at risk for coronary heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.

Ideally, you should strive for a total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL. Anything above that level raises your risk for heart disease.

The good news is there are many steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing high cholesterol and managing the problem if it occurs. First, talk with your doctor to get an assessment of your heart disease risks. She will help you develop an action plan to get heart healthy.

Here are 10 easy steps you can take now to lower your cholesterol:

1. Eat five to ten grams or more of high-soluble fiber foods, such as oatmeal, beans, apples, pears, carrots, and peas a day.

2. Cut down on saturated fats found in meat, full-fat dairy products and some oils, and in trans fats found in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers, and cakes.

3. Eat at least two servings of omega-3 fatty fish a week. Some to choose include mackerel, lake trout, herring, salmon, and sardines.

4. Consume a handful (about 1.5 ounces) of nuts a day. Some of the heart-healthiest include walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and pecans.

5. Use about two tablespoons of antioxidant-rich olive oil a day in place of other fats in your diet.

6. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day on most days of the week, including walking, biking, swimming, jogging, or dancing.

7. Avoid tobacco smoke. Smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke decreases HDL cholesterol levels.

8. Maintain a healthy weight. Although any body type can have high cholesterol, overweight people are more likely to have high cholesterol levels. However, thin people should also have their cholesterol levels checked regularly.

9. Get your cholesterol level checked beginning at age 20—or earlier if you have a family history of heart disease.

10. See your doctor regularly. Even with diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, your cholesterol levels may still remain high. Depending on your LDL cholesterol and your other risk factors for heart disease, in addition to the lifestyle changes you've made, your doctor may also recommend a cholesterol-lowering medication for you.




Mayo Clinic. "Cholesterol: Top 5 foods to lower your numbers." Web.

American Heart Association. "Prevention and Treatment of High Cholesterol." Web.