Blood cholesterol levels can be lowered by decreasing the amount of fat in the diet, choosing foods that contain unsaturated fats, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, exercising regularly and reducing stress, according to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care. Most cases of cardiovascular disease are caused by a build-up of waxy cholesterol, plaque and other fatty deposits on arterial walls.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends that daily calories consist of no more than 30 percent fat, preferably polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from vegetable oils, nuts and fish. Saturated fat, found mainly in red meat and high-fat dairy products, should contribute no more than 7 percent of calories daily. Trans fats, contained in foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or shortening, lower the body's good cholesterol (HDL) and raise bad cholesterol (LDL). They are added to hard margarines, mayonnaise and store-bought baked goods. Smoking increases LDL, and physical activity raises HDL. Adults should exercise moderately or vigorously for 150 minutes weekly to help raise HDL levels.
Triglycerides are another type of blood lipid (fat) and are associated with obesity, excess alcohol consumption and diabetes. Also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, triglycerides can be lowered by the same means as cholesterol, says the Mayo Clinic.