- You may be able to reverse your high cholesterol through diet alone. The Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) diet is recommended by the National Institutes of Health for lowering cholesterol. This diet is based on eating foods that are low in trans fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. The TLC diet calls for less than 200 mg of dietary cholesterol daily and less than 7 percent of your calories from saturated fat.
The diet also increases your intake of soluble fiber and plant sterols and stanols. The TLC diet calls for at least 5 g of soluble fiber each day, but prefers up to 25 g per day, to lower your LDL.
Plant sterols and stanols lower LDL by blocking the absorption of cholesterol. It is recommended you eat at least 2 g of these each day. To add these compounds to your diet, eat more fruits, vegetables and beans. Look for margarine and juices which have stanols and sterols added.
Choose whole-grain bread, pasta and rice. Eat six or more servings every day. Have three to five servings each day of vegetables and dry beans. Choose fresh, frozen or canned varieties with no fat, salt or sauces added. Eat two to four servings of fresh, canned or frozen fruit each day. The TLC diet allows you to eat two to three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products daily. The diet limits your intake of whole eggs to two per week. Fish, poultry and lean meats are limited to 5 oz. or less per day.
- Exercise is important for your overall heart health. Get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity every day. This can be in the form of walking, running, biking or swimming. Aerobic exercise that gets your heart pumping hard is the best exercise for your heart.
Regular exercise can help raise your good cholesterol and lower your bad cholesterol. Exercise can also help you lose weight, which can further help lower your cholesterol.
- Being overweight is associated with lower good cholesterol levels and higher bad cholesterol levels. By eliminating unhealthy foods from your diet and becoming more active, you can shed excess weight. As your weight returns to normal, your good cholesterol levels should rise and your bad cholesterol and triglycerides should fall to normal. You will also lower your risk of other types of heart disease and diabetes if you lose weight.