Eating to Lower Cholesterol

         Basic Facts

  • Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance found in blood. High cholesterol can contribute to atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the arteries.  
  • Eventually, plaque deposits make it difficult for enough blood to flow through the arteries. A lack of oxygen-rich blood can increase the risk of a heart attack, stroke, or other serious diseases. 
  • There are usually no symptoms related to high cholesterol so it is important to have cholesterol levels checked by a physician. 
  • Eating a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber can reduce high cholesterol.

Cholesterol is categorized as high if total cholesterol is measured at or above 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Total cholesterol includes: 

  • LDL is the “bad” cholesterol and can raise the risk of heart and vascular disease.
  • HDL is the “good” cholesterol” and can lower the risk of heart and vascular disease.

It's important to treat high cholesterol as soon as it is diagnosed. Physicians usually recommend people first change their diet and add other lifestyle changes such as exercising.

Eating plans that lower cholesterol:

  • Reduce saturated fat to 7 percent of daily calories,
  • Include 25 to 35 percent of daily calories from total fat, and
  • Limit dietary cholesterol to 200 mg a day.

Conditions Helped By Recommended Cholesterol Levels

A diet that lowers cholesterol will help reduce the risk for:

  • Heart attack,
  • Stroke,
  • Angina pectoris,
  • Peripheral arterial disease,
  • Carotid artery disease,
  • Diabetic vascular disease,
  • Renal failure and renovascular conditions, and
  • Aortoiliac occlusive disease.

Eating to Lower Cholesterol FAQ