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Are Cholesterol Lowering Dietary Changes for Me?

How Dietary Changes Can Help Everyone benefits from making healthy choices in what they eat. When you have high cholesterol, it's especially beneficial to make the effort to eat foods that are healthy for your heart. Except in rare cases, making changes to your diet is always a part of the treatment plan to lower cholesterol.

Here's how a healthy diet can help:

  • decrease your LDL - known as the bad cholesterol
  • decrease your triglyceride levels
  • decrease your risk for heart disease
  • reduce your chances of developing diabetes, which in turn reduces your risk for heart disease
  • reduce your chance of developing high blood pressure, which in turn reduces your risk for heart disease
  • keep you off or help your medicine work better
  • make you feel better physically and mentally because you'll know you are actively working on leading a more healthy life

It can be hard to change long-held eating habits. But with some effort and help from your healthcare team, you can succeed - and reap the benefits.

Dietary changes are a key to improving cholesterol levels. In fact, in its 2001 May guidelines, the National Cholesterol Education Program puts renewed emphasis on them. A healthy diet is one part of what it calls therapeutic lifestyle changes, or TLC. They are a major part of any treatment plan. The idea isn't to go on a short-term diet but to adopt healthier eating habits that you can live with over a lifetime.

What Can Make This Easier?

While this sounds good to many people, it is easier said than done. You've spent a lifetime developing your eating habits. Just the thought of making changes may feel overwhelming to you right now. Taking the next step and actually altering your food choices can be hard at first. But to control your cholesterol and reduce your risk for serious illness, you need to do this.

Your effort is worth it. Eating a more healthful diet may help you control your weight and improve your overall health. It may keep you off medicine or help your medicine work better. Eating well may make you feel better, too. It's a great feeling to know you are actively working on leading a more healthy life. By improving your diet, you are taking some control over your cholesterol so that it doesn't control your health, now or down the road. Thinking about benefits like these when you are making the choices to fill your plate may help keep you on track.

What Do I Do?

Your doctor and a dietitian can help you develop and adopt a healthy eating plan that fits your tastes and lifestyle.