Life's Essential 8™ - How to Control Cholesterol Fact Sheet

Understand Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that comes from two sources: food and body. It is found in foods from animal sources only. It travels in the body by lipoproteins (LDL and HDL).

  • HDL = GOOD: High-density lipoprotein is known as “good” cholesterol.
  • LDL = BAD: Low-density lipoprotein is known as “bad” cholesterol.
  • HDL: Helps keep LDL from sticking to artery walls and reduces plaque buildup. This process can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Triglycerides: The most common type of fat in the body.
  • Total Cholesterol: HDL level + LDL level + 1/5th of triglyceride level = total cholesterol level.

Track Levels

A health care professional can measure blood cholesterol and help you understand what the levels mean. Track your cholesterol levels over time and take steps to reduce high cholesterol.

Tips for Success

  • Eat Smart: Eat a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, plant-based proteins, lean animal proteins like fish and seafood. Limit sugary foods and drinks, red or processed meats, salty foods, refined carbohydrates and highly processed foods.
  • Move More: Physical activity helps improve cholesterol levels.
  • Know Your Fats: The fats you eat can affect your cholesterol levels. Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats.
  • No Nicotine: Smoking lowers good HDL cholesterol. It also raises your risk of heart disease.
  • Take Medication as Directed: Your doctor may prescribe statins or other medications to control your cholesterol levels.

How to Control Cholesterol

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