Cholesterol in the Blood

Here is a list of 13 things you can do to improve your lipids (or fats) in your blood. 

  1. Base your meals on plant-based foods such as beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, soyfoods and a small amount of nuts and seeds. Limit animal protein to three ounces per day.
  2. Reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat to no more than 15 grams per day (found in meat, poultry, eggs, butter, cheese and full fat dairy products); when using fat, choose canola oil. Look for saturated fat content on food labels. Limit foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fatty acids). Look for these in the ingredient list of many processed foods such as cookies, crackers, cereals, margarine and fast foods.
  3. Increase your fiber intake to 30 grams per day (found in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grain breads, cereal, pasta, rice). Read labels to identify fiber content. Soluble fiber is especially effective in lowering cholesterol. The best sources of soluble fiber are: oats and barley, beans and peas, soyfoods, fruits, root vegetables, flax and sunflower seeds.
  4. Include a four to six ounce serving of fish two to three times per week for Omega-3 fatty acids. (Limit shrimp to one four-ounce serving per week as it is high in cholesterol). Other sources of Omega-3s are soyfoods, walnuts, oats, ground flaxseeds and berries.
  5. Limit your daily cholesterol intake to 200 mg per day. One ounce of animal protein contains about 25 mg cholesterol. Other sources of cholesterol are cheese, whole dairy foods and egg yolks.
  6. Have two to three servings of low fat or fat-free dairy foods daily or the equivalent in calcium. Lack of calcium can raise LDL and blood pressure and may contribute to obesity. If you cannot eat dairy, other sources of calcium are fortified orange juice, broccoli, kale, almonds and beans.
  7. Include nuts and seeds in moderation (1/4 -1/3 cup per day). Ground flax seeds may be especially effective in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides.
  8. Spread your food intake throughout the day, eating three meals plus one or two snacks. Large meals tend to elevate triglycerides.
  9. Limit concentrated sweets. Excess high fructose corn syrup can raise LDL. Check labels on candy, juices, pop, snack foods and cereals.
  10. Get regular physical activity, preferably at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Include some resistance exercise two to three times per week if it is safe for you.
  11. Drink alcohol in moderation if at all.
  12. Learn to manage your stress.
  13. Don't smoke.

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