Cholesterol is typically broken down into two categories: good and bad.
High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is considered “good” cholesterol. It can protect against heart attacks and help maintain overall heart health. On the flip side, low levels of HDL cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease.
Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is what’s commonly known as “bad” cholesterol. When it circulates throughout the body, LDL cholesterol can build up in artery walls. This can eventually lead to a clot, heart attack or stroke. New research also suggests that having high cholesterol may make it more difficult to get pregnant.
How do you lower bad cholesterol?
Food choices can help. Kidney beans, apples, pears and foods rich in fiber are suggested, according to Mayo Clinic. Mackerel, herring and nuts are also recommended. Putting yourself on a low-cholesterol diet can help put you on a better path to heart health. According to the American Heart Association, the first step is to reduce the saturated fat in the meat and poultry you eat. This can be accomplished by selecting leaner cuts of meat. Trimming fat before you cook it, draining the fat into a rack below while cooking, or removing the skin from chicken or turkey can all help cut saturated fat. Substituting egg whites for whole eggs is also recommended. Try swapping out greasy potato chips with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Recent research has also linked lentils, chickpeas, beans and peas to improved cardiovascular health. In fact, researchers say that even one serving of legumes a day can significantly bring down bad cholesterol. A healthy diet isn’t the only way to lower cholesterol. The American Heart Association says that a variety of medications can help. Statins are perhaps the most common cholesterol-lowering drug class. Researchers are working toward developing drugs that mimic the effects of natural, but rare, genes that curb bad cholesterol.