How to Reduce LDL

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Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is known as "bad" cholesterol because high levels can cause cardiovascular disease. Lowering LDL in the bloodstream can bring many health benefits and prolong life. Doctors may be quick to prescribe statin anti-cholesterol drugs, and in some cases medical intervention may be urgently needed, but there are also natural ways to lower LDL, including these steps below.

Things You'll Need

  • Doctor's appointment for a blood test to establish LDL levels.
  • Have your LDL level checked so you know whether you are in the normal or elevated range for this cholesterol. A reading of less than 100 mg/dL (mlligrams per deciliter) is considered optimal. A reading of 190 or more carries the highest risk of developing heart disease.

  • Eliminate wheat and sugar from your diet, but increase non-wheat foods such as oatbran.

  • Cut the fat. Eliminating fatty foods, especially snacks with trans fat acids, can dramatically reduce LDL levels over time. Look for nutritional and ingredient information on food products before you buy to check for trans fats and overall fat content as a percentage of total calories. Cheeses and butter, for example, contain almost 100 percent fat calories, so look for low-fat alternatives such as margarine and cholesterol-free nondairy spreads.

  • Take a Vitamin D supplement. This boosts the body's production of high-density lipoprotein or HDL ("good cholesterol"), which acts like a scrubbing agent to clean LDL and transport it away from the heart and arteries.

  • Eat more fish, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon. Consume broiled or baked fish and avoid foods fried in oil.

  • Snack on unsalted almonds, walnuts and pistachios. A daily handful of these nuts, about 1 1/2 oz., can reduce LDL, according to studies by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

References

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