Lowering Levels

Cholesterol comes from the human body, mostly the liver, and the foods we eat. The body produces approximately 1,000 milligrams per day of cholesterol which is all the body needs for good health. Therefore, cholesterol consumption from foods is not needed. Foods derived from animals such as meat, poultry, fish, seafood, egg yolks, and whole-milk dairy products contain cholesterol. Plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains don't contain any of this substance.

Saturated fatty acid are the main factor in elevating blood cholesterol level. However, trans fats and dietary cholesterol also raise levels. In the United States, the average woman consumes 217 mg (milligrams) of choelsterol daily while the average man consumes 337 mg of cholesterol. Some of the excess dietary cholesterol is removed through the liver, mainly through HDL cholesterol.

The American Heart Association recommends that we consume less than 300 mg (milligrams) of cholesterol daily. Of course, if you have heart disease, you should consume less than 200 mg. Remember, keeping your intake of saturated fats low will significantly lower your consumption of dietary cholesterol.

Lowering Cholesterol LevelsThose with severely elevated blood cholesterol levels should limit their dietary cholesterol levels even more. Great care should be taken to limit their consumption of all foods from animal sources, since they all contain choelsterol. No more than six ounces of lean meat, poultry, and fish per day should be consumed. Using fat-free and low-fat dairy products is recommended. Substitutes for animal protein sources such as beans should be considered as well. (For more information on low cholesterol foods, click here.)

High triglyceride levels raise heart disease risks. 150-199 mg/dL is borderline high, and levels of 200 mg/dL and above may need treatment.

If you have followed a low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol diet, lost weight, and increased physical activity and your blood cholesterol levels are still not acceptable, then your doctor may prescribe a cholesterol lowering medication. Use of these medications do not mean that you should discontinue your low-saturated-fat, low cholesterol diet, or discontinue physical activity, or stop controlling other risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes.