How long does it take to lower cholesterol by diet?

Written by lori newell
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Keeping cholesterol levels in check is an important component of overall personal health. If your doctor has told you that your cholesterol is high, you could be at risk for heart disease or stroke.. Medications can help to lower cholesterol, and regular exercise can help lower cholesterol, and should be a part of a total health plan. Following is a basic overview of the process and time it takes to lower cholesterol levels. Remember, everyone responds differently to treatment, and check with your doctor before starting any new program.

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Time Frame

The National Cholesterol Education Program suggests following a diet and exercise program for at least six months. During this period, the goal is to combine physical activity and weight control to reduce dietary saturated fat and cholesterol.

General Guidelines

To help lower cholesterol levels, the Cleveland Heart Care Clinic recommends that no more then 30 per cent of a daily diet should come from fat. You also should replace saturated fat with unsaturated fat. Cholesterol intake should not exceed 300 milligrams per day. In addition, eat 2 to 3 servings of dairy products, 2 to 3 servings of protein, 6 to 11 servings of breads and grains, 3 to 5 servings of vegetables, and 2 to 4 servings of fruits daily.

Food Recommendations

There are certain foods the Food and Drug Administration recommends eating to help control cholesterol levels (see Resources below). These foods contain plant stanols or sterols, which occur naturally in small amounts in many grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. Plant sterol and stanol esters are also added to low-fat breads and cereals, low-fat margarine, milk and yoghurt, as well as some fruit juices.

What Plant Sterols and Stanols Do

These substances block the absorption of cholesterol. To the body these substances look and act like cholesterol. As they travel through the body, they block harmful cholesterol from building up in arteries. Instead, cholesterol is excreted from the body. In a study published by The New England Journal of Medicine, patients who consumed approximately 28.4gr of stanol-fortified margarine daily lowered their bad LDL cholesterol by 14 per cent. See the link for Medicine.net below for more information.

Identify Healthy Cholesterol Levels

According to the American Heart Association a healthy total cholesterol level is less then 200 mg/dl. You are considered to have borderline high cholesterol if your level is between 200 to 239 mg/dl. You will be diagnosed with high cholesterol if your level is 240 mg/dl and over. Cholesterol level can be checked with a simple blood test performed by a doctor. You may or may not have to fast depending on the type of test your physician orders. General recommendations suggest getting cholesterol levels checked every five years if you have no other risk factors for heart disease. If your levels are high, or you are at a higher risk for heart disease, your doctor may recommended more frequent testing. You and your doctor can find the right program to help lower cholesterol levels and keep them there. The above guidelines are a general overview, however, and your health care provider can make specific recommendations.

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