Why is it important to lower blood LDL cholesterol levels?
The higher your blood LDL cholesterol level, the higher your risk of heart disease. High blood cholesterol is a major cause of a process called atherosclerosis, which can gradually clog the blood vessels supplying the heart, brain and other parts of the body. This ‘clogging’ may eventually prevent the blood from getting to parts of your heart or brain, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
See a video explaining atherosclerosis and heart attack.
In Australia, 32% of adults have high blood cholesterol – that’s 3.2 million adults. Research shows that if you lower your blood LDL cholesterol levels you will lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
How can I lower my LDL cholesterol levels?
There are several lifestyle changes that will help to lower blood cholesterol levels. The Heart Foundation recommends:
- Be smoke-free (for information and help on quitting smoking, call the Quitline on 13 QUIT)
- Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
- Choose polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils and margarine spreads
- Choose foods such as wholegrain bread and cereals, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, vegetables, fruits, legumes (e.g. chick peas, kidney beans and lentils), lean meats and poultry, oily fish and reduced, low or no fat dairy products
- Consume plant sterol enriched foods as part of a health eating plan
- Limit cholesterol-rich foods if advised to do so
- Limit alcohol intake to no more than 2 standard drinks per day for men and women
- Get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week.
There are some people who may need medication to lower their blood cholesterol levels as well as making these lifestyle changes. If prescribed for you, take the cholesterol lowering medication as advised.
Can I eat eggs?
Yes you can. Eggs are very nutritious. They contain good quality protein, lots of
vitamins and minerals, and mostly the healthier polyunsaturated fat.
The dietary cholesterol in eggs has only a small insignificant effect on blood LDL cholesterol, so you can enjoy up to six eggs each week as part of a healthy balanced diet. Find out more about eggs.
Q&As on dietary fats and dietary cholesterol for the general population (2009)
Position statement on phytosterol/stanol enriched foods - Updated 2009 (2009) Q&As on plant sterol enriched foods for the general population (2007)