According to the American Heart Association, you should keep an eye on your cholesterol to make sure it’s at healthy levels. High cholesterol leads to a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart disease and stroke.
Cholesterol is a wax-like substance that your body needs to help build cells, make vitamins and other hormones.
There are two types of cholesterol:
When you have high cholesterol, plaque can build up in your arteries. Over time, plaque buildup can cause your arteries to narrow, making it harder for blood to flow through your body. This can lead to health problems, such as a stroke, blood clots or heart disease.
Triglycerides are a fat in your blood that your body uses for energy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that high levels of triglycerides combined with low HDL and/or high HDL levels can lead to a higher risk of heart attack or stroke. Eating healthy foods and quitting smoking can help lower triglycerides.
There are no symptoms of high cholesterol, so the only way to know your cholesterol levels is to have your doctor order a blood test. This chart shows what healthy and high cholesterol looks like.
|Less than 200
|Less than 100
|50 or more
|Less than 150
|200 to 239
|130 to 159
|40 to 50 for men
50 to 60 for women
|150 to 199
|240 or more
|160 to 189
|Less than 40 for men
Less than 50 for women
|200 to 499
|190 or more
|500 or more
A heart-healthy diet is a great way to lower your cholesterol and prevent high cholesterol. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics gives these nutrition tips to help lower cholesterol levels.
Eat foods with plant sterols and stanols
Include more foods in your diet with plant sterols and stanols, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and vegetable oils. These foods can help lower total and LDL cholesterol levels. Some foods, such as orange juice and certain cereals, are fortified with plant sterols and stanols.
Limit saturated fat
Eating too much saturated fat can raise your LDL cholesterol level. You can find saturated fats in animal products, such as fatty meats and dairy products. Swap saturated fats with unsaturated fats, which can help lower total cholesterol and LDL levels. You can find unsaturated fats in foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. In addition to limiting saturated fat, avoid trans fats, which may also raise LDL levels.
Foods rich in omega-3s, including salmon and other fatty fish, chia seeds, walnuts and flax seeds, can help lower triglyceride levels. Foods high in omega-3s may also lower HDL cholesterol.
Choose leaner proteins
Limit fatty, marbled meats and fried foods, which are high in saturated fat. Eat more lean proteins, such as chicken, turkey, fish and plant-based proteins like nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, quinoa and soy products.
Eat more fiber
Dietary fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils and whole grains.
There are two types of fiber:
Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is a great way to get more fiber into your diet. Make sure to drink more water as you include more fiber in your diet, as fiber will absorb excess water.
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Posted: September 13, 2023