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6 Ways to Lower Cholesterol through Diet and Exercise6 Ways to Lower Cholesterol through Diet and Exercise


Lower Cholesterol through Diet and Exercise

Research shows that if you are overweight, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can lower your cholesterol levels. If you are using MyFoodDiary to reach or maintain your healthy weight, you've already taken the first step. Here are more ways you can lower your cholesterol through diet and exercise:

  • Limit saturated fats to less than 7 percent of total calories. Saturated fats are most often found in animal products, such as red meat and butter.

  • Eliminate trans fatty acids from your diet. Trans fats are found in processed foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Even foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving can be labeled trans fat-free so check ingredient lists and avoid foods with “hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list.

  • Limit dietary cholesterol intake to 300 mg or less per day. Those who have been diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes should limit cholesterol intake to 200 mg per day.

  • Eat more foods with omega-3 fatty acids, including fish (such as wild salmon and lake trout), flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and kale.

  • Eat more dietary fiber, especially in the form of dried beans, oat bran, barley, eggplant, apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus. These foods contain soluble fiber, which has been found to lower LDL cholesterol. Adults should eat 20-35 grams of fiber per day.

  • Engage in 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least five days a week, preferably every day. This amount of exercise has been shown to increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

Make sure you discuss your plan with your doctor. If you are at high risk for heart disease, your doctor may recommend an approach such as combining lifestyle changes with medication to improve your cholesterol more quickly.


Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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