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Our bodies need cholesterol. We can't live without it. But a high level of cholesterol is too much of a good thing. The best way to control your cholesterol is to make wise food choices and get enough exercise. Once you've lowered your saturated fat intake, you've taken important steps toward a healthier heart. Here are some more ideas that can help you meet your goal.



Fiber


   There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. While our bodies need both, it is soluble fiber that helps to lower our cholesterol. Eating 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber each day can decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol by 5% to 10%.



Soy Protein


   Although it is not clear that soy protein alone reduces cholesterol, it may have that effect when used as a replacement for animal protein in milk or meat because animal-based foods naturally contain more cholesterol.


   Between 2 and 4 servings of soy each day (25 grams or more) is about right. Several healthy brands of soy milk are on the market; these have less than 2 grams of saturated fat and less than 10 grams of sugar. Tofu is a refrigerated soy product. Many meat-substitute soy products can be found in the freezer case.



Omega-3 Fatty Acids


   Omega-3 fatty acids reduce certain fats in the bloodstream. Some fish and shellfish are rich sources of omega-3s, although anyone who could become pregnant should limit those with high mercury content.



Nuts


   Replacing snacks high in saturated fats with nuts- especially almonds- can help reduce LDL and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Nuts contain healthy fats, but they are also high in calories; choose those without added oils and salt and don't have more than a small handful a day.

Smart Food Choices to Lower Cholesterol