High Cholesterol

10 Ways to Lower Cholesterol

Make living healthier a family affair. Kids usually aren’t the only ones at risk, so it’s important to make this a family effort. The steps you take to improve your family’s lifestyle can have a positive effect on your family’s health not only now, but far into the future.

Here are 10 ways to help keep your family’s cholesterol at healthy levels:

  1. Know your own cholesterol level — and if it’s high, ask to have your kids’ levels checked.
  2. Serve a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
  3. Choose from a variety of protein foods, including lean meats and poultry, fish, nuts, beans, peas, and soy products.
  4. Read nutrition facts labels so that you can limit cholesterol and saturated and trans fat intake. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend keeping dietary fat intake between 30%-40% for kids 1-3 years old and between 25%-35% for kids 4-18 years old, with most fats coming from sources of unsaturated fats (such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils).
  5. For kids over 2 years old and teens:
    • limit cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams a day
    • keep saturated fats to less than 10% of calories
    • avoid trans fats as much as possible
  6. Choose nonfat or low-fat milk and dairy products.
  7. Stay away from solid fats. Use vegetable oils and trans-fat-free margarine.
  8. Limit beverages and foods with added sugars.
  9. Limit commercially prepared baked goods and serve healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, vegetables with low-fat dip, lite popcorn, and low-fat yogurt.
  10. Encourage plenty of exercise. Exercise helps boost HDL levels in the blood — and that’s a good thing! Kids and teens should be physically active at least 60 minutes a day. Source: KidsHealth.ORG

Resources for Adolescents

Children with LDL cholesterol levels 130 mg/dL or greater should receive individual nutritional counseling that focuses on reducing dietary fat and cholesterol and increasing physical activity. They should be tested again after 3 to 6 months of lifestyle intervention.

Medication might be considered for kids 10 and older with LDL cholesterol levels of 190 mg/dL or higher if changes in diet and exercise haven’t worked. For kids with additional risk factors, treatment may be considered at even lower levels.