What can I do to reduce my cholesterol?

Make sure you are watching your diet, even small changes can make a big difference. Eating oatmeal for breakfast can bring down cholesterol. Exercise can help decrease both cholesterol and glucose. Before starting any exercise program, you need to have approval from your physician. The important thing is to continue to monitor your values and keep all follow-up appointments with your physician. Keep the lines of communication open with your physician to continue to follow your levels.

Several steps can help to reduce cholesterol levels. First, eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. Keep your total fat consumption including saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats—under 30 percent of your daily intake of calories. Keep your cholesterol intake to fewer than 300 milligrams daily.

Saturated fats contained in dairy products (such as milk and butter), hydrogenated oils, chocolate, shortening, etc. should comprise less than one third of your total fat consumption. In order to reduce your total fat and cholesterol intake, cut down on eating meats such as beef, pork and organ meats (always remember to trim away excess fat). Also, avoid fried foods, nuts and cream. Try to limit your consumption of eggs to no more than four per week. Several times a week, try to eat meatless meals. Use skim milk and include fish in your diet. Include a wide variety of vegetables, pasta, grains and fruit in your diet.

Evidence shows that water-soluble fibers can help lower cholesterol. These include the fiber in oat or corn bran, beans, pectin found in apples and other fruits, and guar (which is used as a thickener). Although highly touted by media reports and health food stores, tests have not confirmed the phospholipid Lecithin as a reducer of blood cholesterol levels.

Other suggestions include losing weight and including aerobic exercise into your routine. Diet and exercise alone can decrease cholesterol levels by as much as 15 percent.

If you smoke, you should quit. This will help you avoid a wide range of health problems, including low levels of good cholesterol and increased risk of heart attack. (But you already knew that didn't you?)

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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.