How Much Cholesterol Comes From My Diet?

The Short Answer from a registered dietitian

How Much Cholesterol Comes From My Diet?

Q: How much of your cholesterol comes from your diet?

A: It’s difficult to know exactly how much cholesterol comes from your food, because your liver also manufactures cholesterol. But we do know which types of cholesterol are influenced by dietary choices.

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Your total cholesterol includes three types of blood fats, or lipids:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol, which is affected by your diet. Following a Mediterranean-style diet that’s rich in plant foods and healthy fats will help to lower it.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol, is influenced by genetics and your diet. Tips to boost HDL include eating plenty of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, exercising and quitting smoking.
  • Triglycerides, which are affected by what you eat.  Consuming excess calories, especially from simple sugar and alcohol, can increase levels, so adjusting your diet can help to lower triglycerides.

It’s worth noting that people with genetic conditions such as familial hyperlipidemia may have difficulty improving their cholesterol levels despite their best efforts at diet and exercise.

However, a Mediterranean-style diet benefits not just your heart; it also protects against other chronic diseases.

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— Registered dietitian Katherine Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD

 

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