A diet to lower LDL cholesterol

Creating a Diet to Lower LDL Cholesterol

Low-density lipoproteins, also known as LDL cholesterol, are one of the five groups of lipoproteins. This type of cholesterol is referred to as the “bad cholesterol, and keeping your LDL levels as low as possible is good for reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.

There are certain medications called statins that work to lower your LDL cholesterol levels. However, these drugs also have potentially damaging long-term side effects such as muscle pain, memory loss, and elevated liver enzymes. If you wish to lower your LDL cholesterol without becoming dependent on medications, there are certain lifestyle changes that can be very beneficial. These include:

  1. Avoiding saturated fats: One of the biggest contributors to high levels of LDL cholesterol is saturated fats. Foods that contain a lot of saturated fats include butter, red meat, full-fat and low-fat dairy products, palm oil, and coconut oil. In order to create a diet with this in mind, try to select nonfat dairy foods and limit your intake of meat and poultry to no more than 4 ounces per day.
  2. Exercising regularly: Besides just lowering LDL cholesterol levels, physical activity also can increase HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) by up to ten percent.
  3. Eating fiber-rich foods: Foods that are naturally high in soluble fiber have been proven to lower cholesterol. Some of these foods include oats, barley, peas, yams, potatoes, and legumes.
  4. Eating more fish: Fish and fish oil contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are excellent for lowering your cholesterol. It is suggested by doctors to consume fish or fish oil about two or three times per week. Other foods such as soybeans, canola, flaxseeds, and walnuts also contain omega-3, but the biggest heart benefits have been linked to the omega-3 that is found in fish.
  5. Drinking alcohol in moderation: The American Heart Association has cautioned against increasing alcohol intake or starting to drink if you don’t already. However, moderate consumption of alcohol has been proven to raise levels of HDL cholesterol by up to 10%. Despite the benefits, it is still important to remember the risks of excessive drinking.
  6. Drinking green tea: This is a good alternative to sodas or other sugary beverages. Additionally, recent research has shown that green tea contains compounds that will lower LDL cholesterol over time.
  7. Eating protein-rich plant foods: This can include legumes or beans, nuts, and seeds. These foods can be a good alternative to red meat since they are still high in protein but lack the fatty acids that come with red meats.
  8. Eating nuts: Limit nuts to only about a handful a day since they are high in calories, but regular, moderate consumption of things like walnuts and almonds has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol.
  9. Quit smoking: Smoking is a bad habit that will lower your levels of HDL cholesterol and is a major risk for heart disease in and of itself.
  10. Taking supplements: Some vitamin and mineral supplements have been shown to have cholesterol benefits. These include sterol supplements, which come from plants, and psyllium husks, which are seed grains. 
Last Updated: April 18, 2018