Each year, hundreds of thousands of people have either chest pain, a heart attack, or other cardiovascular problems as a result of cholesterol buildup in their arteries. Reaching a lower level of cholesterol is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from a heart attack or stroke. Diet and exercise changes are usually the first steps in lowering high cholesterol before medicines are added.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in the blood that can build up and form deposits in your arteries that can clog them or in some cases even completely block the passage of blood and oxygen to the heart. There are two different kinds of cholesterol: HDL (commonly known as “good” cholesterol) and LDL (commonly known as “bad” cholesterol). LDL is made up mostly of fat and is a particular risk factor for heart disease.

When you set out to lower your cholesterol, it is important to know your levels of HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol. The following chart displays where you want your cholesterol levels to be at:


If any of your cholesterol levels are above the healthy ones indicated above, then you are at risk for a range of cardiovascular problems.

Fortunately, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of developing health problems down the road! With a combination of diet, exercise, will power, and any medications prescribed by your doctor, you will be able to get your cholesterol under control.

As a general diet guideline, you’ll want to reduce the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat and instead choose healthier fat options that are found in nuts, fish, and avocados. When it comes to exercise, getting in regular physical activity (at least a half hour about 4 times per week) is ideal. Combining exercise with a healthy diet plan can help you raise your HDL cholesterol levels and lower your LDL cholesterol levels! Consult your doctor for the ideal combination of diet, exercise, and medication that is right for you.