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Maybe you’ve been told your cholesterol is too high. Or maybe you just want to keep it at a healthy level. What level is best for you depends on other health conditions you may have. Always follow your doctor’s orders. Read the basics on cholesterol and how to lower it.


Types of cholesterol:

  • HDL is the good type. It protects against heart disease, so it’s commonly known as “good” cholesterol. Higher numbers are better.
  • LDL is the bad type. It increases your risk for heart disease. Lower numbers are better.


One of the other types of fat that circulates in the blood is called triglycerides. A high level of triglycerides can also raise heart disease risk. Levels that are borderline high may require treatment.

Change your eating habits

One way to lower your cholesterol is to eat healthier. Your doctor may suggest a specific diet for you. This includes choosing lean proteins, as well as foods: 

  • Low in saturated fat 
  • Low in total fat 
  • High in fiber 
  • Low in cholesterol 

Be more physically active 

Physical activity increases the good kind of cholesterol and lowers both triglycerides and the bad kind of cholesterol. Physical activity can help you lower your blood pressure, lose weight and improve your overall health. Be sure to check with your doctor first.

Lose weight if needed

Being overweight means that you probably have higher blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than you otherwise would. This places you at a higher risk for heart disease. If you are overweight, losing even a little weight can help improve your cholesterol. 

Quit smoking

Smoking increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, heart attack and cancer. Don’t smoke, and make sure you also avoid secondhand smoke.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs

If lifestyle changes are not enough to control cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe medication.



  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • American Heart Association 
  • National Institutes of Health


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