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Cholesterol High, How to Lower

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My cholesterol just came back as 251 and the "bad" kind is high. How do I find the right kind of stuff to eat?


Thanks for any info

Dear Thanks for any info,

High cholesterol increases your chance of developing heart disease, so there is reason for concern. A person with a total cholesterol level above 240 has twice the risk of heart disease than someone with a desirable cholesterol level below 200 (American Heart Association, 2008).


The good cholesterol is called High Density Lipoproteins (HDL). HDL helps remove cholesterol from the body. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) considers an HDL of 60 or higher protective against heart disease.

The bad cholesterol is called Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL). LDL carries cholesterol through the bloodstream and can damage arteries with buildup and blockage. The NHLBI considers LDL levels less than 100 to be optimal.

In addition to exercise and losing weight if overweight, the NHLBI recommends an eating plan called the Heart Healthy Diet (see below) in order to keep LDL low and lower the risk for heart disease. Avoid fried foods and eat lean meats, vegetables and fruit. Choose healthier cooking methods: bake, broil, microwave, roast, stir-fry, or grill. Read the packaged food labels and buy reduced fat foods such as nonfat or 1% milk, nonfat yogurt, reduced fat salad dressings, popcorn without butter, or pretzels.

The NHLBI website has an online calculator where you can input your weight, age, height, and exercise level in order to calculate the recommended daily calorie intake, saturated fat and total fat to help lower cholesterol (


The Heart Healthy Diet is an eating plan that can help keep your blood cholesterol low and decrease your chance of developing heart disease. Remember: the Heart Healthy Diet is fine for the whole family, including children from the age of 2-4 onward. Children under 2 years of age should not follow the Heart Healthy Diet - they need more fat to provide enough calories for growth and development.

Heart Healthy Diet Guidelines -- you should eat:

1. 8-10% of the day's total calories from saturated fat.

2. 30 percent or less of the day's total calories from fat.

3. Less than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a day.

4. Limit sodium intake to 2400 milligrams a day.

5. Just enough calories to achieve or maintain a healthy weight and reduce your blood cholesterol level. Ask your doctor or registered dietitian what is a reasonable calorie level for you.

Also, your doctor may prescribe a cholesterol lowering medication in addition to dieting and exercise in order to get your cholesterol to an acceptable level.

For more information on cholesterol, go to and