Elevated LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein)
Many things affect your child’s chances of having heart and blood vessel disease as an adult. Some of these risk factors, such as family history, age, and gender, cannot be changed. Some of the risk factors can be changed, such as:
- Poor food choices
- Low fitness/activity level
- Being overweight
- Tobacco use
- High blood pressure
- Low HDL cholesterol
If these risk factors are reduced during childhood, the chances of future heart problems can be decreased. Atherosclerosis, the build-up of cholesterol in arteries, starts in children as young as 2 years of age. By making wise food and activity choices now, your child can lower the risk of the following problems when they are older:
- A stroke caused by blockages in the arteries that lead to the brain
- A heart attack caused by blockages in the arteries around the heart
- Peripheral vascular disease caused by blockages in arteries in the legs
Cholesterol is a substance found in all cells. It is needed for many body functions. Lipoproteins are particles that carry cholesterol and other fats throughout the blood. Two important lipoproteins are HDL and LDL. Increased LDL levels have been found to increase the risk of heart and blood vessel disease. LDL cholesterol can collect in the arteries. This is why it is called “lousy” cholesterol.
Some fat is needed for our body. It is a big source of energy for muscles. It helps move vitamins throughout your body. Fat is also needed to make certain body tissues. Even so, some blood fats can lead to a type of heart and blood vessel disease called atherosclerosis. This disease is a build up of cholesterol, calcium, and blood clotting factors in blood vessels. This buildup limits blood flow, which can increase the risk of a heart attack, stroke, leg pain or other problems.
Food choices which tend to raise LDL levels:
- Too much saturated and trans fats (see below)
- Not enough fiber in the diet
To reduce your total LDL level:
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Get regular exercise
- Increase your fiber intake
- Decrease saturated and trans fat intake (see charts below about specific food recommendations)
Saturated fats tend to raise blood cholesterol levels. These types of fats are found in animal foods (fatty meats, whole milk, butter) and tropical oils (palm and coconut oil).
Trans fats are made when liquid vegetable oils are hardened to make shortening or margarine. They act like saturated fat by raising your “lousy” LDL cholesterol. They also decrease your “happy” HDL cholesterol. Try to consume as little trans fat as possible.
Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods. Eating 25-35 grams of dietary fiber per day (with a focus on soluble fiber) can help lower LDL by 3-5%. Soluble fiber is found in fruits and vegetables, barley, corn, peas, beans and oats.
To increase your fiber intake:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables (aim for at least 5 servings per day)
- Eat whole grain breads, pasta and cereals.
- Plan some meatless meals using beans or lentils as a protein source
Plant sterols/stanols block cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestine. Consuming 2 grams of plant sterols per day can reduce LDL levels by 10% or more. Plant sterols are found in fortified margarine (Promise® Take Control®), yogurt (Supershots®) and in plant sterol capsules.
Milk and Dairy Products
|Skim or 1% milk||Whole or 2% milk|
Low-fat/part-skim cheese: mozzarella,
swiss, famer’s cheese
Full-fat natural cheeses, any
Low-fat/non-fat frozen yogurt, sherbet,
|Full-fat ice cream|
|Low-fat/non-fat sour cream||Full-fat sour cream|
Low-fat/non-fat cottage cheese or
|Full-fat cottage cheese or yogurt|
|Low-fat/non-fat cream substitutes||Cream, half & half|
Lean beef: lean ground beef
(90/10 or higher),
top sirloin, tenderloin, rump, flank
Fatty beef: high-fat ground beef
(80/20), T-bone, prime rib
|Lean pork: loin chop, tenderloin, ham||Fatty pork: spare ribs, sausage|
|Turkey sausage or turkey bacon||Pork sausage, bacon|
|Lean lunch meats||
Lunch meats with more than
3 grams fat/ounce
|Baked or grilled chicken and fish||Deep-fried meats and seafood|
|Egg white/egg substitute||
Egg yolk (limit to 4 per week)
|Vegetable/broth soups||Creamed soupsRegular hot dogs or bratwurst|
|Turkey/chicken hot dogs or bratwurst||Regular hot dogs or bratwurst|
Tofu, peanut butter, dried or canned
beans, lentils, hummus, nuts and seeds
|High-fat meats listed above|
Margarine: soft tub or squeeze type
(with 0 grams trans fat), margarines
fortified with plant sterols
Butter, margarine with hydrogenated
oil as primary ingredient
(contains trans fat)
Liquid oils: canola, olive, peanut,
sesame, sunflower, safflower,
soybean, cottonseed or flaxseed oils
Coconut and palm oils, lard, cream
cheese, vegetable shortening
containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
|Oil-based salad dressings||Creamy salad dressings|
Mayonnaise and sandwich spreads
Spending too much time in front of a screen (phone, computer, video games, TV) takes away from active time in a child’s day. No more than 2 hours of daily screen time is recommended for all children over 2 years of age.
Fitness strengthens your heart. It also raises your HDL, lowers your triglycerides and helps with weight control. Activities can be jogging, walking, biking, dancing and swimming. Children can play at the park or play outside with friends. Experts say to aim for 60 minutes of vigorous play or aerobic activity daily.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/28/2013
Copyright © 08/28/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7545
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