Cholesterol is naturally produced by your body and is essential to its function throughout your everyday life. However, excessively high levels of cholesterol—in particular, LDL cholesterol— are bad and can lead to serious health problems such as clogged arteries, heart disease, and stroke.
What is LDL Cholesterol?
LDL stands for Low-Density Lipoproteins. This type of cholesterol is produced by the liver and is instrumental in the creation of cell walls, hormones, and digestive juices. However, when your LDL level is high, it can start to form a plaque-like substance on the walls of your cardiovascular system, blocking the natural flow of blood and leaving you at severe risk for heart attack and stroke. Put simply, LDL is the bad kind of cholesterol. But fear not - there are several ways in which you can lower your LDL cholesterol and encourage the development of High-Density Lipoproteins (good cholesterol), which actually function to limit the level of LDL cholesterol in your system.
Consider Screening for Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH)?
Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a genetic disorder that causes dangerously high levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol from birth. If you have a family history of heart disease and very high cholesterol, you may have FH. FH can be diagnosed with a simple blood test, or lipid panel. Learn more here.
Altering your diet is the easiest way to lower your elevated LDL cholesterol, and should be your first course of action, as every cholesterol-lowering strategy starts with your dietary habits. A balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and various plants will significantly help you lower your LDL cholesterol level. It’s best to limit the amount of red meat, eggs, and dairy you consume. Plant-based diets not only help lower your LDL, but they can also help clear plaque buildup from your arteries.
Starting a simple exercise routine is another way to help lower your elevated LDL cholesterol level. And if you compound working out with the dietary tips listed above, you could potentially lower your LDL level by over 37 percent and increase your HDL cholesterol by over 5 percent in just two months. Not to mention the added benefits of losing weight, decreased stress, and higher energy, exercising is an all-around great activity to incorporate into your life. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity, four to five times each week, and you’ll be well on your way.
While diet and exercise should be your two main options for fighting off LDL cholesterol, you can also look into the various dietary supplements that are on the market today. Consider omega-3 fish oils, artichoke extract, and green tea extract. Keep in mind that these natural products have not been fully proven to reduce your level of LDL cholesterol, but they may be able to help along the way.
Everyone’s body is different, and it may take a little bit of time to determine what cholesterol-lowering methods work best for you. Whatever program you decide on, stick with it and you’ll be on the right path to a healthier you!
Check out more Diet & Lifestyle Tips for a healthier life.
About the Author
Sam S. Gidding, MD is the Chief Medical Officer of the Family Heart Foundation. Dr. Gidding is known for founding PEDAL, a consortium dedicated to prevention of adult onset lipid related diseases beginning in youth. He is a member of the ACC/AHA task force on clinical practice guidelines and has participated in the development of new adult and pediatric blood pressure guidelines. He has previously worked on guidelines/scientific statements on familial hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, tobacco, obesity, nutrition, diabetes, and congenital heart disease for AHA, AAP, NHLBI, WHO, CDC, EAS, NLA, and ADA. Dr. Gidding has been a visiting professor at the Cleveland Clinic, University of Miami, University of Pittsburg, University of West Virginia, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Texas A and M University, Brown University, the University of Hawaii, Montefiore Hospital, and the University of Michigan and lectured internationally.
Million Hearts: Cholesterol Management
The Agenda for Familial Hypercholesterolemia: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association
55 Responses to “How to Lower Your Elevated LDL Cholesterol”
how can I keep my colestrol lower. I have heart problem with 5 by passes.
how bad eggs are. how many eggs a week does not harm? I am taking 50 miligram simvastatine a day. I am tiny like 130 LP and 5-10 high.
I don,t like to lose any more weight. what do you suggest?
Exercise! Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean losing weight, some people work out to gain weight or even maintain their current weight. I know that men, especially those with smaller figures try to body build to get a larger physique. Get a gym membership, and tell your trainer that you’re aiming to lower your cholesterol level but don’t want to lose any weight. try muscle building programs. Also, be sure to let your trainer know about your cardiac problem ! when doing cardio you need to watch out and take it gradually.
Also, a healthier diet. Like the article said try to limit red meat to once a week, eggs to 2-3 a week (preferably boiled and not fried) at most, try to cut dairy or replace what you can like replacing cow milk with soy or almond milk, if you can’t handle that start with drinking only skim milk. Also, try eating fish 1-2 times a week! omega-3 found in fish like salmon raises HDL (protective against cardiovascular diseases) and lowers your LDL (the bad cholesterol, that causes cardiovascular disease). Green tea, red grapefruit, beans and even avocado and peanut butter (just don’t overdo it, too much good fat will eventually turn into bad fat), etc are also healthy choices.
To summarize, try to increase your dietary intake of fish, fruits and vegetables and decrease your intake of red meat and oiled foods. and Exercise!
Hi my family member! I wish to say that this post is awesome, nice written and come with approximately all significant
infos. I’d like to see extra posts like this .
Wr are vegetarian. My wife LDL cholesterol level us 144.
pl.let us k now how to reduce the same.
Wr are vegetarian. My wife LDL cholesterol level us 144.
pl.let us k now how to reduce the same.
What precautions to be taken.
Cook sprouted mung dal (sprouts in 1 – 2 days) in S.Indian style (called Sundal in tamil/kannada) and store it in fridge. You can eat that every day for almost a week. Eat 1 cup full every day throughout the week. LDL will drop very well. Mine dropped from 120 to 90 in a year (I checked after a year). All the best!
I have been a vegan 100%. exercise 4-5 days a week 45 minutes yet my LDL cholesterol keeps going up. Please explain.
Hello Rosie, Have you considered seeing a doctor that specializes in familial hypercholesterolemia and other lipid disorders to see if there is a genetic component to your high LDL cholesterol? You can email the FH Foundation and we would be happy to help: info@theFHFoundation.org
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Why does it list “and various plants” what are the various plants?
Green, leafy vegetables, esp. kale, collards, swiss chard are a few vegetables which help. Fiber in apples (pectin) may reduce LDL levels. It is VERY important to eliminate all forms of sugar for a few weeks, reintroduce (ONLY one for a month or so) a slightly sweet food, and switch different types of sweet foods to see which sweet food is more tolerable.
I really like honey in my tea i use a very small amount only when I drink it, would this be something I would have to also stop for awhile if I stop all sugars?
I also during fresh lemon and cucumber in my water.
I am normally health but lately my LDL has been a little hight. Is stress a contributor to hi LDL?
Please guide me.
I got my L I P I D Profile test report yesterday. It shows S. LDL: 169.31 while S.HDL: 34.47 along with S.Cholesterol: 232.28 mg/dl. What necessary steps to be taken to lower this High range LDL, HDL and S.Cholesterol.
I would appreciate to reply.
Hi would drink beer or any other kind of thing
Be bad for you
how bad is ldl cholestrol of range 145
Ayush? Do you have a family history of heart disease. You may want to check out our information on familial hypercholesterolemia here: https://familyheart.org/diagnosis-management
I very simply lowered my cholesterol 57 points in 6 month (257 to 200) and my ldl from 158 to 132 by not eating meat. It has now been a year since I stopped eating meat, I cannot exercise due to major surgery but lost 50lbs and will have my cholesterol retested in September for my annual checkup. I’m also planning on going back to the gym soon. High cholesterol runs in my family and I was determined not to go on medication like my mom. I gained 30lbs when I was injured, I did not intend to go back to my weight as a teenager when I stopped eating meat, just lower my cholesterol, that was just a perk. I never deprive myself of food, I eat fish and I don’t miss meat from my diet at all. It was a conscience choice I made to try and lower my cholesterol, no one told me to or advised me but it worked and I’m happy I took the path. Good luck to all and stay healthy!
Thank you for your comment Layla. We are glad this diet has worked for you. If you have familial hypercholesterolemia, diet and exercise alone will not be enough. You may want to take a look at our treatment page to consider other options to discuss with your healthcare team. https://familyheart.org/diagnosis-management/treatment-for-fh
My LDL is 187 mg/dL. How quickly I should rush to the doctor. Or shall I just switch over to diet and exercise mentioned in above article.
Here is more information for you to look at: https://familyheart.org/about-fh/do-i-have-fh. Please feel free to email us at email@example.com.
I found this health information very useful. I have taken it upon myself to create the awareness about Low-Densty Lipoprotein and its devastating effect on us.
Thanks you for your feedback Haruna.
115 my triglycerides being 456 and my HDL cholesterol that I 35 and then my LDL direct is 256 my family is known for heart disease and plaque buildup nine really don’t want that to happen so any advice would be appreciated I already limit my diet really well with vegetables and fruits and I eat a lot of pork and chicken and I’m allergic to fish so I can eat fish is there anything I can do to replace that thank you for your time have a wonderful day
I just moved and had to go to a new doctor. At my first annual exam and lipid panel, she called me back for a consult because she wanted to put me on a statin due to “high” ldl cholestoral levels. I am female, 54, height 5’4” and weigh 130 lbs. My ldl was 123 – my triglycerides were 58. My hdl was 68. I had basically the same lipid panel 2 years ago at my last annual exam (before moving) and my doc there was not concerned other than suggesting I start a CoQ10 and Omega 3 regimen. I don’t smoke, I exercise at least 45 minutes a day (running, cycling, golf, walking, etc.) – my major weakness is sweets. Plus no heart disease in immediate family (both parents still alive at 79 & 80 – no history of stroke, etc.)
I’m just wondering if my new doctor is being overly concerned.
My Dr has ldl normal range as 50-100. I wish I had your ldl. I have a family history w Mom for higher cholesterol. No clue what my dads was. I think I would get another Dr opinion bc what dr tells me for my numbers compared to yours, he would probably praise you. Don’t get sucked into one dr trying to put you on statins w those numbers. Statins have their negative side for you too. I know it’s only my opinion but with your numbers, I think your doing great!
My LDL is 167 mg/dL. My doctor advise me to take life long daily one tablet of creastor -20 mg should i start or to control on my diet and exercise / morning walk. in family mother was heart patient .
I have Chrones disease and high cholesterol so it is difficult what to eat as I can’t have too much fruit, veg, pulses or basically anything healthy, what can I eat to lower my cholesterol
Thanks everyone for all of your comments. If you have specific inquiries, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. While we cannot give you medical advice, we may be able to help you find an FH specialist. Otherwise, continue to check back to our discussions, or consider joining our FH Support Group here: https://community.familyheart.org/welcome
My father L.D.L cholesterol is 204 mgs% , Is this dangerous for heart? How to control L.D.L cholesterol?
Hi Radhan If you have specific inquiries, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com. While we cannot give you medical advice, we may be able to help you find an FH specialist. Otherwise, continue to check back to our discussions, or consider joining our FH Support Group here: https://community.familyheart.org/welcome
really informative articles. it really helps. Thank you for sharing
great article love to read it. it is very informative
total cholesterol :Ratio is 3.34: 1.0 Ratio. Pl. suggest me what kind of pre cations wil implement. is it dangerous? I am pure vegetarian.
Hi my LDL is 108.1 mg/dL, Fasting blood sugar 110.9 mg/dL and AST (SGOT) 34 U/L, this was just taken after new year January 3, 2018 of which i ate a lot. I’m 41 single and 128lbs. Do i need to take maintenance? or just simply have my diet and do excercises. Looking forward for your advises. Thanks.
Is olive oil good instead of vegetable oil for those who have high ldl?
I had a minor stroke in October 2017, since then I have gained 15 pounds. I have tried everything (exercising included),, and I am not loosing any weight . I take 1 pill everyday to lower my cholesterol. I hate this weight around me, and is mentally affecting me as I have been slim for last 8 years. None of my clothes fit me … Any suggestions will be appreciated…
Hi I am 31, having family history of heart disease, my LDL is 200, triglycerides 150 HDL 55, So I have to take medicine,or over come with diet, exercise, please reply
I have high LDL and i am vegetarian for many years! Why???? I eat hardly any eggs. I do eat alot of yogurt and sweets. Is that the cause?
Thanks for contacting us. I am going to have someone on our team reach out to you directly.
hi, my cholesterol count is 3200.21mg/dl and my LDL is 240.27mg/dl..it is so high, does menopausal period affects this results? my HDL is 51.53mg/dl and triglycerides is 142.09mg/dl. my creatinine is high too, 0.90mg/dl…my diet is usually veg and meat stew, but then I eat the veggies and its soup only and little of the meat…I eat nuts too…
I am going to have someone reach out to you.
It’s actually a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m happy that you shared this helpful info with us.
Please keep us informed like this. Thank you
Hi! my hubby’s ldl cholesterol is 142 mg/dl. And cholesterol total is 228mg/dl. What are the precautions to be taken care of? He doesn’t eat much of oil. Please help in detail food to be taken?
Hello Sanjana, Your husband’s care would depend on whether he has FH or other risk factors. It is best to discuss this with a doctor. If you would like to find a specialist in your area, you can check out our FH Specialist map https://familyheart.org/find-fh-specialist
Thank you for your good advice. My dad’s ldl cholesterol level is 145 and overall cholesterol level is normal. He has to take medicines? Or can we reduce this level as you mentioned.
Hello Greeshma, Your father’s care would depend on whether he has FH or other risk factors. It is best to discuss this with a doctor. If you would like to find a specialist in your area, you can check out our FH Specialist map https://familyheart.org/find-fh-specialist
Information was very informative, thank you. My LDL is 79 trying to decrease levels. Is olive oil better to use vs. vegetable oil?
All the same impact, per our chief medical officer. Thanks for your comment!
I just got my blood work && it says 132 ldl && I weight 131lbs. How is this possible?? && I’m only 28yrs old
Hi Melanie, We could put you in touch with a specialist who may be able to answer your questions. You can email us at info@theFHFoundation.org
Hi and thank you for your article – very thorough and informative. I am frustrated. I just found out my cholesterol is high. I am almost 49, 5’4″, 140 Ibs, work out regularly and eat right. I rarely drink, if ever and I have never smoked. I’ve always, pretty much, taken care of myself (was an athlete, dancer, exercised regularly my whole life, good diet and weight).
I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2011 (I had gestational Diabetes with both pregnancies in 1994 and 1995 but it went away) and I have gained like 15 Ibs since (my adult weight before getting this has ranged from 116-130; I only gained 25 and 18 pounds during each pregnancy) – seems, regardless of what I do.
My goal is to reverse my Diabetes.
I recently tried going Vegan for 12 months (just ended that around August), but still rarely eat any animal products – no dairy, no cheese, no meat or fish. I eat tons of veggies, good nuts, take MTC oil, etc. I have not tried your suggestion about green tea extract or herbs – is this my only hope at this point?
Does the Diabetes simply cause the high cholesterol? Am I simply doomed to this disease and what other diseases may come with it?
I am extremely discouraged at this point, and the medical community/industry has not been very helpful – just meds, meds, meds….
Thanking you in advance for any other ideas/help you can provide. Blessings – Denise
Hi Denise, We wouldn’t be able to diagnose the causes of your high cholesterol, but we could put you in touch with a clinician that could help. We can email you or you could email us at info@theFHFoundation.org
i got my results today and found my ldl cholesterol is 170 mg/dl. I am 54 years old , married with 2 children and on menopause stage. Weight – 48.3 kg / 157.6 cm. BP is 164/112 and on medication.
Family history – heart problems.
I dont eat pork, beef and lamb. I kinda of eat healthy – salad twice a week with vinegar and olive oil as dressing, and rolled oats daily. Fruits and vege and fish are my favourites. Oily stuff is very seldom. sometimes McD but 2 a month. How clean do i need to eat?
My LDL is 117. Is this not too bad? I guess it’s supposed to be less than 100.