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Lifestyle Cholesterol Management (cont.)

Shopping List for Cholesterol Management

Lower cholesterol levels should start at the grocery store. Read food labels and buy foods low in saturated fat and low in cholesterol (cholesterol itself is found in some foods, and this type of cholesterol is different from blood cholesterol).

To help you know what to look for when grocery shopping, use this shopping list from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute:

  • Breads such as whole wheat, rye, pumpernickel, or white
  • Soft tortillas, corn or whole wheat
  • Hot and cold cereals except granola or muesli
  • Rice (white, brown, wild, basmati, or jasmine)
  • Grains (bulgur, couscous, quinoa, barley, hominy, millet)
  • Fruits: Any fresh, canned, dried, or frozen without added sugar
  • Vegetables: Any fresh, frozen, or (low salt) canned without cream or cheese sauce
  • Fresh or frozen juices, without added sugar
  • Fat-free or 1% milk
  • Cheese (with 3 grams of fat or less per serving)
  • Low fat or nonfat yogurt
  • Lean cuts of meat (eye of round beef, top round, sirloin, pork tenderloin)
  • Lean or extra lean ground beef
  • Chicken or turkey, white or light meat (remove skin)
  • Fish (most white meat fish is very low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol)
  • Tuna, light meat canned in water
  • Peanut butter, reduced fat
  • Eggs, egg whites, egg substitutes
  • Low-fat cookies or angel food cake
  • Low fat frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbet
  • Popcorn without butter or oil, pretzels, baked tortilla chips
  • Nuts such as walnuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts
  • Margarine (soft, diet, tub, or liquid)
  • Vegetable oil (canola, olive, corn, peanut, sunflower)
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Sparkling water, tea, lemonade

How do I lower my cholesterol through exercise?

Regular aerobic exercise helps lower cholesterol levels as well as control high blood pressure, diabetes, and body weight. While most health organizations recommend 30 minutes a day of some type of exercise, the bottom line is that more is probably better, but some is still better than none.

How much exercise is enough?

Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes 3 times a week constitutes a moderate level of aerobic exercise. That may be enough to raise your HDL cholesterol by 1 to 3 points (higher is better) and lower your LDL cholesterol (lower is better).

If you can't get in a 30-minute block of exercise all at once, do a few minutes of exercise here and there throughout the day (climb the stairs at work, walk around the block on your lunch break, park and walk). Researchers have demonstrated that exercise even without weight loss can have a positive impact on improving cholesterol levels. It is the amount of activity, and not necessarily any changes in fitness or intensity of exercise that is important for cholesterol improvement and decreasing the risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Medically reviewed by Robert J. Bryg, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Cardiovascular Disease


American Heart Association. What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. Third Report of the Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III).

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/21/2016

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