LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol carries mostly cholesterol, some protein, and minimal triglycerides throughout your circulation, depositing cholesterol along blood vessel walls as it travels.
LDL cholesterol is commonly referred to as the “bad” cholesterol because it’s deposited along artery walls and if it becomes oxidized it will form a plaque eventually leading to blockage of your arteries. For this reason, physicians like to see low LDL levels. The American Heart Association recommends LDL cholesterol be below 130 mg/dl and ideally less than 100 mg/dl. Here are four options to lower LDL cholesterol:
To lower LDL levels evaluate your diet for saturated and trans fats. You want to replace saturated and trans fats with heart healthy unsaturated fats, such as omega 3 fatty acids. Use this link to learn more about trans fats and saturated fats.
Increase dietary fiber, especially soluble fiber. Eat 25-35 grams of fiber daily and of this at least 15 grams should be soluble fiber. Research has shown that for every 1-2 grams of daily soluble fiber intake, LDL (bad) cholesterol is lowered 1 percent. Learn more here: Dietary Fiber: 4 Tips to Lower Cholesterol with Fiber
Eat plant sterols everyday. Eating 2 grams of plant sterols each day will on average reduce your LDL cholesterol 10 percent.
Plant sterols occur naturally in foods at low levels, so some foods have been fortified. Here is the amount of plant sterols in some foods:
- Avocados, 1 small 0.13 grams
- Corn Oil, 1 tablespoon 0.13 grams
- Sunflower Seeds, 1/4 cup 0.19 grams
- Oat Bar with plant sterols, 1 bar 0.4 grams
- Orange Juice with plant sterols 1.0 gram
- Vegetable oil spread with plant sterols, 1 tablespoon 1.0 gram
Benecol is also an option to boost plant sterol intake.
Also, inactivity can cause higher cholesterol levels. Increase physical activity to increase HDL, lower LDL, and lower triglyceride levels. Check with your physician before starting an exercise program if you’re not currently active.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.