Cholesterol is a waxy substance that helps create hormones and digestive substances. It’s found in every cell in the body.

Modern diets with high fats have sent cholesterol levels soaring in many people. The question of how to help benefit cholesterol has been a major one in medical research. Determining ways to lower LDL, or low-density lipoprotein has been especially challenging.

It is essential to make dietary changes to help benefit cholesterol, particularly damaging LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Patients should identify high-cholesterol foods in their diet as well as those with saturated and trans fats and avoid them as much as possible. Moreover, several foods have zero cholesterol including seaweed, spinach, potatoes, beans, and lentils.Some foods can actually lower LDL cholesterol. Nori, a red alga used for wrapping sushi, is high in niacin, which decreases LDL, and increases the metabolism of triglycerides (the chemical form of fat) that can form on arterial walls. It also cleanses the bloodstream. It is particularly useful and can help to benefit cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

The antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes and phytosterols in avocados can bring down LDL. The soluble fiber in oatmeal also lowers LDL cholesterol. So does alpha-linolenic acid in flaxseeds. Avocados are also high in nutrients, vitamins, and calories, and are very filling. This makes them a good substitute for higher-calorie, higher-fat foods.

Finally, moderate and regular aerobic exercise like jogging, walking, cycling, and swimming are thought to lower LDL and boost high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which helps eliminate LDL. Lifting weights can also help clear it out from the bloodstream. Even small changes like taking the stairs instead of an elevator and taking short walks during breaks at work can help.

When lifestyle changes don’t help, medications can target both LDL and triglycerides. Keep in mind that there is some debate over what are acceptable cholesterol levels.

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