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What lifestyle changes can help lower my cholesterol?

Natalie Castro-Romero, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
The following are guidelines for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC). These tips can help you make healthier food choices and lower your cholesterol.
 
Limit saturated fats and eliminate trans fat.
  • Foods high in saturated fats include marbled (fatty) meat, poultry skin, bacon, sausage, whole milk, cream, and butter.
  • Trans fats are found in stick margarine, shortening, some fried foods, and packaged foods made with hydrogenated oils.
  • If you eat these foods, have them only once in a while and in small amounts. Instead of butter or stick margarine, try reduced-fat, whipped, or liquid spreads.
Limit the amount of cholesterol that you eat to less than 200 milligrams (mg) per day.
  • Foods high in cholesterol include: egg yolks (one egg yolk has about 212 mg of cholesterol), fatty meat, whole milk, cheese, shrimp, lobster, and crab.
Eat more omega-3 fats (heart-healthy fats).
  • Aim to eat fish twice a week.
  • Coldwater, oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines are good sources of omega-3 fats.
  • Flaxseed is another source of omega-3 fats. Try flaxseed oil or ground flaxseed.
Get 20 to 30 grams of dietary fiber per day.
  • Aim for five cups of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Have three ounces of whole-grain foods every day.
  • A good source of fiber has more than three grams of dietary fiber per serving.
Increase your physical activity.
  • Set a plan to get about 30 minutes of exercise on most days, then increase the routine to include some type of physical activity daily.
  • Physical activity will help increase your HDL, or "good" cholesterol.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.