How to Lower Cholesterol: Don't Forget the Basics

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • In honor heart month, let's review the basics and make sure you have a solid foundation in place to support a healthy heart.


    Here are three top steps you can take now to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.


    1.     Know and understand your cholesterol lab results.


    A simple blood test will check your cholesterol levels.  This test is also known as a lipid profile.  You will learn your total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.  By knowing the "breakdown" of your lipid panel you (or your MD/dietitian) will be able to determine the best steps to take for results.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:


    The American Heart Association Recommends that everyone over the age of 20 know their cholesterol levels.


    2.     Adopt a heart healthy lifestyle.


    This means eating a diet that support heart health and including physical activity as part of your daily routine.


    Here are some basic guidelines for a heart healthy diet to lower cholesterol:

    • Saturated fat intake should be limited to less than 7% of your total daily calories.
    • Daily trans fat intake should be less than 1% of your total calorie intake.
    • Cholesterol should be limited to less than 300 mg/day.
    • Eat 25-35 grams of dietary fiber.  The needs to include an adequate intake of soluble fiber, which will promote lower LDL levels.
    • Include sources rich in omega 3 fatty acids to your diet.  Some benefits of omega 3 fatty acids include lower triglycerides, increased HDL cholesterol, and slower build-up of arterial plaque. 

    Here are basic guidelines for physical activity to lower cholesterol.

    • Include at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.

    This is the latest recommendation of The Health and Human Services Department.  In order to see substantial health benefits, include at least 150 minutes, 2 ½ hours, of moderate-intensity activity each week.  If times a factor, you can see the same benefits by bumping up the intensity and being vigorously active 75 minutes (1 hr. 15 min.) each week. 


    By include regular physical activity you will raise HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides.


    You can learn more about a diet to lower cholesterol here.


    3.     Lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight. 


    Weight has a significant impact on your heart health and cholesterol levels.  Weight loss alone may lower triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels.  Losing as little as 10% body weight could drop your cholesterol back to the heart healthy range.


    Missed a few days? Check out out our previous tips:

    February 1: Start Slimming Down Your Recipes

    February 2: Switch from Canned Veggies to Frozen

    February 3: Wear a Pedometer

    February 4: Eat Plant Sterols

    February 5: Start a Food Journal

    February 6: Select Darker Lettuce for Salads

    February 7: Make a Date With Your Family

    February 8: Slow Down and Taste Your Food

    February 9: Drink Water. . . Water. . . and More Water!

    February 10: Eat Breakfast Everyday

  • February 11: Close the Kitchen

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:


    If you are confused about what steps to take to lower cholesterol, don't be afraid to ask for help.  Your physician is a great referral source to appropriate resources.  The Health Central Network experts are happy to answer your questions.  Be sure to sign up for the free e-course How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps.

Published On: February 12, 2009