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Cholesterol and Diet


A consumer asks: Do I have to cut out all red meat if my LDL Cholesterol is too high?

Cholesterol and Diet

By: Larry Studt, M.D., Occupational Health & Medicine Program, HSHS St. Joseph's and Sacred Heart hospitals

High cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease. People at any age can take steps to keep cholesterol levels normal, and diet is just one thing that you can do to help.

First, get a blood test to confirm your cholesterol levels and discuss the results with your family practitioner. The test is called a lipoprotein profile. It measures several kinds of cholesterol as well as triglycerides. Some doctors do a simpler blood test that just checks total and HDL cholesterol.

The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that healthy adults get their cholesterol levels checked every five years.

Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet can help keep blood cholesterol levels down. Avoid saturated fat, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol, which tend to raise cholesterol levels. Other types of fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, can actually lower blood cholesterol levels. Eating fiber can also help lower cholesterol.

To get an idea of a healthy low-cholesterol diet, check out GoMyWay, the free wellness tracker of St. Joseph's and Sacred Heart. You can personalize a week's worth of meal plans to help you learn how to create low fat diets. Go to and click GoMyWay.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese can raise your bad cholesterol levels. Losing weight can help lower your cholesterol.

Don't Smoke

Smoking injures blood vessels and speeds up the hardening of the arteries. Smoking greatly increases a person's risk for heart disease and stroke. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. Your doctor can suggest programs to help you stop smoking.

Treat High Cholesterol

If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe medications in addition to lifestyle changes. Controlling LDL cholesterol is the primary focus of treatment.


Be sure to watch the “Ask the Doc” video to learn more!

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