Handbook Of Life
Image default
Healthy Eating

What is the most crucial eating habit for high cholesterol?

If you’ve received a diagnosis of high cholesterol, you’ve probably given some thought to how to bring your numbers down! So what does a cholesterol-lowering eating plan really look like?

1. What is High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is a condition that occurs when levels of cholesterol in your blood are elevated enough to cause health problems, including heart disease and stroke. Sometimes known as hyperlipidemia, high cholesterol is painless and doesn’t cause any symptoms until a person develops severe heart disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and stroke is the fifth leading cause.

Approximately 93 million Americans over 20 years old, or almost 40 percent of the U.S. population, have high cholesterol.right up arrow Slightly more than half of adults with high cholesterol are getting treatment to lower it, the CDC notes.

Produced by your liver, cholesterol is a dense, fatty substance that’s found in every cell of your body, and it is considered essential to many life-sustaining functions. It helps your body make hormones and vitamin D, and it’s also found in compounds that your body creates to help you digest food, such as bile.

Circulating in the bloodstream in small bundles of fat and protein called lipoproteins, cholesterol comes in two primary types: low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which contributes to the buildup of fatty plaques, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is thought to protect from heart disease and stroke. A blood test known as a lipid panel can measure both LDL and HDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides, the most common type of fat in the blood.

Although scientists have long focused on measuring LDL cholesterol through a blood test, new research suggests that this narrow focus on LDL cholesterol levels does not necessarily lead to overall improved health outcomes for patients.right up arrow Some people with healthy LDL levels may still develop heart disease.

Currently, the American Heart Association (AHA)right up arrow and the CDCright up arrow both recommend that healthy adults over 20 get their cholesterol levels measured every four to six years. People who already have high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, or other risk factors may need to check their cholesterol levels more often.

2. High Cholesterol Symptoms to Watch For

High cholesterol can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other serious health conditions—but knowing symptoms and risk factors is crucial for prevention. “There are ways to manage high cholesterol, and the wonderful news is that heart disease is 90% preventable,” says cardiologist Leslie Cho, MD. “Even if you have a significant family history of high cholesterol, you can prevent heart disease.” Here are high cholesterol symptoms and risk factors to be aware of.

Watch Out For Trans Fats

According to the American Heart Association, trans fats—found in ultra-processed, prepackaged and fried foods—lower good cholesterol (HDL) and raise bad (LDL) cholesterol. “Trans fats have a very negative impact on the body,” warns Dr. Cho. “Not only do they worsen your cholesterol, but they also increase your markers of inflammation.”

How Much Time Are You Sitting?

Spending all day sitting down—for example an office job to the car to the couch—can do a number on your cholesterol, even if you work out regularly. “We found that time spent standing rather than sitting was significantly associated with lower levels of blood sugar and blood fats. Replacing sitting time with stepping was also associated with a significant reduction in waistline and BMI,” says Dr Genevieve Healy, senior research fellow at the School of Public Health, The University of Queensland, Australia.


If your body mass index (BMI) is over 30, you might want to get your cholesterol checked. “If you are obese and have high cholesterol, losing weight should help lower your cholesterol, as well as your risk for other obesity-related conditions including diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Does Cholesterol Run In the Family?

“Oftentimes, one of the biggest factors that determines your cholesterol levels is your genes,” says Kate Kirley, MD. “How your genes affect your cholesterol is pretty complicated, but it’s safe to say that high cholesterol tends to run in families. For most people, genetic testing isn’t necessary or helpful unless they have very high cholesterol levels. And because genes are something we can’t change this is why medications are an important tool for treating high cholesterol.”

Eating Cholesterol Doesn’t Mean High Cholesterol

Despite decades of fat (not to be confused with trans fats!) being maligned as a nutritional villain, it’s not more likely to raise your cholesterol than any other macronutrient. “One of the biggest things we see is that people think their cholesterol levels are more tied to what they eat than they really are,” says Dr. Kirley. “The amount of cholesterol that you eat, doesn’t actually impact your own cholesterol very much. And that’s because your body is making cholesterol. It makes cholesterol no matter what. Even if you eat no cholesterol, your body makes cholesterol. What you eat matters, but it has less impact on cholesterol levels than a lot of people might realize.”

3. The Most Crucial Eating Habit for High Cholesterol

What is the most crucial eating habit for high cholesterol?

Though you might not be able to feel cholesterol accumulating in your blood vessels, this thick, gunky substance builds silently, and it can spell danger for your health. High cholesterol impedes the flow of blood in your arteries, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. Even type 2 diabetes and some forms of dementia have been linked to an excess of the waxy build-up.

If you’ve received a diagnosis of high cholesterol, you’ve probably given some thought to how to bring your numbers down! So what does a cholesterol-lowering eating plan really look like?

In years gone by, the standard medical advice was that to reduce blood cholesterol, people needed to reduce cholesterol from foods as much as possible. These days, though, more up-to-date research has shown that there’s more to lowering your numbers than just cutting out your morning eggs.

According to the American Heart Association, the best way to reduce your cholesterol is to reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats, focusing instead on omega-3s and other unsaturated fatty acids. Bumping up your soluble fiber can also play a key role in lowering cholesterol, since fiber traps fats in the bloodstream, keeping some of them from being absorbed.

These recommendations are all helpful—but what if there was one healthy eating habit that helped you do them all at once? Good news: there is. Consuming more whole, plant-based foods (such as whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits, and vegetables) provides this awesome all-in-one effect.

Foods in each of these categories have been linked to lower cholesterol. As far back as 2004, a large-scale study found that fruit and veggie consumption was inversely related to LDL (aka “bad”) cholesterol in both men and women. And plants like oats, beans, barley, and tree nuts all have research studies supporting their place in a cholesterol-lowering meal plan. In fact, a 2020 review revealed that diet patterns high in plant foods, such as the Mediterranean, Nordic, DASH, vegetarian, and vegan diets, all reduced LDL cholesterol. Not only are these diets high in fiber, but they also tend to be lower in saturated fats and higher in unsaturated ones—again, checking numerous boxes for tackling high blood lipids.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to eschew all animal products to lower your numbers. A few simple swaps of plant foods for animal ones could add up fast for results. Try including a favorite fruit or vegetable at every meal, start your day with a bowl of oatmeal, or sprinkle toasted nuts on salads for extra crunch. Or, to take things further, there’s always the concept of a meatless Monday, a “flexitarian” diet, or weekday vegetarianism. By focusing on minimally processed, plant-based foods, you’ll likely reap a happy harvest of healthier blood pressure.

Source: Everydayhealth/Eatthis!

Related posts

8 health benefits of eating sunflower seeds, says Dietitian


What happens to your body when you eat pears regularly?


Avocado is the best fruit to eat daily for lower cholesterol


6 best healthy foods to lose belly fat and slow aging, says Dietitian


Greek yogurt is the best yogurt for strong bones, says Dietitian


Ginger is best veggie for a flat belly, says Dietitian