How to Lower Your Cholesterol with Diet

You risk a heart attack or stroke if your LDL cholesterol is too high. Lower this level by minimizing foods high in cholesterol and cutting back on saturated fats and trans fats. Because your body makes cholesterol, sometimes diet is not enough to reach safe levels, in which case, you may need medicines, such as statins. Genetics also plays a role in determining whether or not you can regulate cholesterol with diet alone.

Step 1Get a fasting "lipoprotein profile" as recommended by the American Heart Association to determine your total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides. Work with your doctor to interpret results and determine an appropriate course of action.

Step 2Follow the American Heart Association's guidelines in designing a healthy diet. Cut back on meat and dairy products, which are high in saturated fats. Increase dietary fiber found in legumes, whole grains, fruit and vegetables. (See Resource)

Step 3Avoid trans fats, known to decrease your "good" HDL cholesterol and increase your "bad" LDL cholesterol. Margarine and some shortening are examples of trans fats made by hydrogenation (adding hydrogen to oils to make them solid). (See Resource)

Step 4Emphasize soluble fibers, which reduce intestinal absorption of cholesterol. These include oatmeal, oat bran, beans, peas, apples, barley and psyllium. (See Resource)

Step 5Eat fish twice a week, or supplement your diet with fish oil pills, canola oil or ground flaxseed oil. These contain omega-3 fatty acids known to reduce cholesterol.

Step 6Add walnuts and almonds to your diet. Both are effective cholesterol-lowering foods.