Reducing Cholesterol

Reducing Cholesterol With Lifestyle Changes

Natural cholesterol reduction generally begins with lifestyle changes, such as:
  • Changing your diet
  • Quitting smoking or nicotine use
  • Exercising
  • Losing weight.
It may take three to six months before you and your healthcare provider see the full benefit of lifestyle changes on your cholesterol level.
Changing Your Diet
In most cases, the first thing a person with high cholesterol should do to reduce it is change his or her diet. This eating plan should include:
  • Limiting the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat.
  • Eating only enough calories to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Increasing soluble fiber in the diet. For example, kidney beans, oatmeal, and apples are good sources of soluble fiber.
  • Adding cholesterol-lowering food (such as margarines that contain plant sterol or stanol esters).
A specific diet to reduce cholesterol (called the TLC diet) has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol levels (see Low Cholesterol Diet). This is a low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol eating plan that calls for less than 7 percent of calories from saturated fat and less than 200 mg of dietary cholesterol per day. The TLC diet recommends only enough calories to maintain a desirable weight and avoid weight gain.
If your LDL is not lowered enough by reducing your saturated fat and cholesterol intake, the amount of soluble fiber in your diet can be increased. Certain food products that contain plant stanol or plant sterols (for example, cholesterol-lowering margarines) can also be added to the TLC diet to boost its LDL-lowering power (see Cholesterol Lowering Food).
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