Some studies indicate that sleep duration that is either too short, under 6 hours, or too long, over 9 hours, may be linked with elevated cholesterol levels. To attain better control over your cholesterol level, concentrate on your sleep habits as well as your dietary habits, physical activity and your family history of elevated cholesterol.

While there is likely to be a metabolic relationship between sleep and cholesterol measurements such as triglycerides, this link has not been clearly established. Thus, the relationship between sleep and cholesterol is best explained at the moment by lifestyle. For example, in the Japanese study, there was a high correlation between the women and men who slept 6 hours or fewer per night and several unhealthy habits that can increase cholesterol. Many of those men and women who slept fewer than 6 hours also reported in the study that they skipped meals, ate out once or more per day, and/or experienced high levels of psychological stress.

Sleep fragmentation was induced by a treadmill which moved intermittently for 3 s with 30-second pauses between moves. Blood lipid and lipoprotein profiles and adiponectin, leptin, ghrelin, cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine levels were compared among four groups including rats with ad libitum sleep and ad libitum intake (Control), those exposed to sleep fragmentation with ad libitum intake (SF), those with ad libitum sleep and diet restriction (DR), and those exposed to sleep fragmentation and diet restriction (SF+DR). SF and SF+DR showed a higher ratio of LDL and HDL cholesterol (184% and 132% increase, P-value for SF effects <0.001) and ghrelin (64% and 18% increase, P-value for SF effects <0.01) and lower leptin (76% and 44% decrease, P-value for SF effects <0.001) and adiponectin levels (3% and 18% decrease, P-value for SF effects <0.01) than Control.

The effect sleep has on lipids highly varies and appears to affect genders differently. In some studies, no significant difference between sleep and lipid profiles were noted, while other studies revealed that too little or too much sleep affected HDL, LDL and/or triglycerides.

For women, HDL and triglyceride levels appeared to be more affected by sleep duration than men in some studies. In some of these cases, HDL was lowered by up to 6 mg/dL and triglyceride levels were increased by up to 30 mg/dL in women who slept less than six hours or more than eight hours. In most of the studies conducted to date, LDL did not appear to be significantly affected by sleep patterns.

Sleep patterns appeared to have a different effect on men. Some studies suggested that LDL increased by up to 9 mg/dL in men who slept less than six hours. In most of these studies, triglycerides and HDL cholesterol did not appear to be significantly affected.

One study also revealed that getting too much sleep (greater than eight hours) or too little sleep placed individuals at higher risk of metabolic syndrome, which is a constellation of signs and symptoms that include lowered HDL, raised triglyceride levels, obesity and elevated blood pressure and glucose levels.


Cholesterol is a steroid lipid (fat) found in the blood of all animals and is necessary for proper functioning of our cell membranes and production of hormones. While there can be negative health benefits associated with low cholesterol, cholesterol deficiency is rare. Our bodies already manufacture all the cholesterol we need, so it is not necessary to consume more. Excessive consumption of cholesterol has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Cholesterol is only found in animal food products, and thus, vegans are likely to have lower cholesterol than non-vegans.

  • Limit saturated fats and oils, such as butter, bacon drippings, lard, palm oil, and coconut oil. Instead, use soft tub margarine or vegetable oils, such as olive or canola oil.
  • Avoid trans fats or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These oils go through a process that makes them solid. They're found in some hard margarines, snack crackers, cookies, chips, and shortenings.
  • Limit fatty meats such as corned beef, pastrami, ribs, steak, ground meat, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and processed meats like bologna. Also limit organ meats like liver and kidney. Replace with skinless chicken or turkey, lean beef, veal, pork, lamb, and fish. Try some meatless main dishes, like beans, peas, pasta, or rice.
  • Limit meat, poultry, and fish to no more than two servings, or 5 oz (140 g), a day. Remember that a serving is about the size of a deck of playing cards.
  • Limit egg yolks.
  • Limit milk products that contain more than 1% milk fat. This includes cream, most cheeses, and nondairy coffee creamers or whipped topping (which often contain coconut or palm oils). Instead try fat-free or low-fat milk (0% to 1% fat) and low-fat cheeses.
  • Limit snack crackers, muffins, quick breads, croissants, and cakes made with saturated or hydrogenated fat, whole eggs, or whole milk. Try low-fat baked goods, and use any spreads or toppings lightly.
  • Instead of using butter or margarine on bread, try dipping it in olive oil.
  • Avoid fast foods like hamburgers, fries, fried chicken, and tacos. They are high in both total fat and saturated fat. When you eat out, choose broiled sandwiches or chicken without skin, salads with low-fat dressing, and foods that aren't fried. Ask the server to leave off the cheese and high-fat dressings like mayonnaise.

Grains Recommended Foods
  • Whole grain breads and cereals, including oats and barley,
  • Pasta, especially whole wheat or other whole grain types
  • Brown rice
  • Low-fat crackers and pretzels
Vegetables Recommended Foods
  • Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables without added fat or salt
Fruits Recommended Foods
  • Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruit
Milk Recommended Foods
  • Nonfat (skim), low-fat, or 1%-fat milk or buttermilk
  • Nonfat or low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese
  • Fat-free and low-fat cheese
Meat and Other Protein Foods Recommended Foods
  • Lean cuts of beef and pork (loin, leg, round, extra lean hamburger)
  • Skinless poultry
  • Fish
  • Venison and other wild game
  • Dried beans and peas
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Meat alternatives made with soy or textured vegetable protein
  • Egg whites or egg substitute
  • Cold cuts made with lean meat or soy protein
Fats and Oils Recommended Foods
  • Unsaturated oils (olive, peanut, soy, sunflower, canola)
  • Soft or liquid margarines and vegetable oil spreads
  • Salad dressings
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Avocado
Grains Foods Not Recommended
  • High-fat bakery products, such as doughnuts, biscuits, croissants,
  • danish pastries, pies, cookies
  • Snacks made with partially hydrogenated oils, including chips,
  • cheese puffs, snack mixes, regular crackers, butter-flavored
  • popcorn
Vegetables Foods Not Recommended
  • Fried vegetables
  • Vegetables prepared with butter, cheese, or cream sauce
Fruits Foods Not Recommended
  • Fried fruits
  • Fruits served with butter or cream
Milk Foods Not Recommended
  • Whole milk
  • 2%-fat milk
  • Whole milk yogurt or ice cream
  • Cream
  • Half-&-half
  • Cream cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Cheese
Meat and Other Protein Foods Not Recommended
  • Higher-fat cuts of meats (ribs, t-bone steak, regular hamburger)
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Cold cuts, such as salami or bologna
  • Corned beef
  • Hot dogs
  • Organ meats (liver, brains, sweetbreads)
  • Poultry with skin
  • Fried meat, poultry, and fish
  • Whole eggs and egg yolks
Fats and Oils Foods Not Recommended
  • Butter
  • Stick margarine
  • Shortening
  • Partially hydrogenated oils
  • Tropical oils (coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils).


High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and possibly some types of stroke. It is one of the main causes of the process by which the blood vessels that supply the heart and other parts of the body become clogged.

Your blood cholesterol level has a lot to do with your chances of getting heart disease. High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. A risk factor is a condition that increases your chance of getting a disease. In fact, the higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack. Heart disease is the number one killer of women and men in the United States. Each year, more than a million Americans have heart attacks, and about a half million people die from heart disease.

When there is too much cholesterol (a fat-like substance) in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries. Over time, this buildup causes “hardening of the arteries” so that arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart is slowed down or blocked. The blood carries oxygen to the heart, and if enough blood and oxygen cannot reach your heart, you may suffer chest pain. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by a blockage, the result is a heart attack.

High blood cholesterol itself does not cause symptoms, so many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high. It is important to find out what your cholesterol numbers are because lowering cholesterol levels that are too high lessens the risk for developing heart disease and reduces the chance of a heart attack or dying of heart disease, even if you already have it. Cholesterol lowering is important for everyone–younger, middle age, and older adults; women and men; and people with or without heart disease.


Cut back on the cholesterol and total fat, especially saturated and trans fats, that you eat. Saturated fats, like those in meat, full-fat dairy products and some oils, raise your total cholesterol. Trans fats, which are sometimes found in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes, are particularly bad for your cholesterol levels. Trans fats raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad," cholesterol, and lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the "good," cholesterol.
In addition to changing your diet, keep in mind that making additional heart-healthy lifestyle changes are key to lowering your cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about exercising, quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight to help keep your cholesterol level low.

What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body. They’re also a major energy source. They come from food, and your body also makes them. High levels of blood triglycerides are often found in people who have high cholesterol levels, heart problems, are overweight or have diabetes.

What about fats?

There are different kinds of fats in the foods we eat. Saturated fat is the kind that raises blood cholesterol, so it’s not good for you. Avoid animal fats like lard and meat fat, and some plant fats like coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil. Trans fat comes from adding hydrogen to vegetable oils and tends to raise blood cholesterol. It’s used in commercial baked goods and for cooking in most restaurants and fast-food chains. It’s also in milk and beef. Polyunsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils and fish oils. These tend to lower blood cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive, canola, peanut, sunflower and safflower oils. In a low-saturated-fat diet, they may lower blood cholesterol.


1. Oatmeal, oat bran and high-fiber foods

Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad," cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes.
Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol. Eating 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal provides 6 grams of fiber. If you add fruit, such as bananas, you'll add about 4 more grams of fiber. To mix it up a little, try steel-cut oatmeal or cold cereal made with oatmeal or oat bran.

2. Fish and omega-3 fatty acids

Eating fatty fish can be heart healthy because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. In people who have already had heart attacks, fish oil — or omega-3 fatty acids — reduces the risk of sudden death.
The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in:
  • Mackerel
  • Lake trout
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Albacore tuna
  • Salmon
  • Halibut
You should bake or grill the fish to avoid adding unhealthy fats. If you don't like fish, you can also get small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from foods like ground flaxseed or canola oil.
You can take an omega-3 or fish oil supplement to get some of the benefits, but you won't get other nutrients in fish, such as selenium. If you decide to take a supplement, just remember to watch your diet and eat lean meat or vegetables in place of fish.

3. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts

Walnuts, almonds and other nuts can reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy.
Eating about a handful (1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams) a day of most nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts, may reduce your risk of heart disease. Just make sure the nuts you eat aren't salted or coated with sugar.
All nuts are high in calories, so a handful will do. To avoid eating too many nuts and gaining weight, replace foods high in saturated fat with nuts. For example, instead of using cheese, meat or croutons in your salad, add a handful of walnuts or almonds.

4. Olive oil

Olive oil contains a potent mix of antioxidants that can lower your "bad" (LDL) cholesterol but leave your "good" (HDL) cholesterol untouched.
Try using about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day in place of other fats in your diet to get its heart-healthy benefits. To add olive oil to your diet, you can saute vegetables in it, add it to a marinade or mix it with vinegar as a salad dressing. You can also use olive oil as a substitute for butter when basting meat or as a dip for bread. Olive oil is high in calories, so don't eat more than the recommended amount.
The cholesterol-lowering effects of olive oil are even greater if you choose extra-virgin olive oil, meaning the oil is less processed and contains more heart-healthy antioxidants. But keep in mind that "light" olive oils are usually more processed than extra-virgin or virgin olive oils and are lighter in color, not fat or calories.

5. Foods with added plant sterols or stanols

Foods are now available that have been fortified with sterols or stanols — substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol.
Margarines, orange juice and yogurt drinks with added plant sterols can help reduce LDL cholesterol by more than 10 percent. The amount of daily plant sterols needed for results is at least 2 grams — which equals about two 8-ounce (237-milliliter) servings of plant sterol-fortified orange juice a day.
Plant sterols or stanols in fortified foods don't appear to affect levels of triglycerides or of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the "good" cholesterol.


How's your cholesterol? If you think that the normal reading you got back in 2004 (or earlier) means you're in the clear, think again: Levels of the artery-clogging substance often rise with age, and cardiologists say everyone 20 or older should be screened for high cholesterol at least once every five years, with more frequent screenings for anyone deemed to be at high risk for heart disease. If it's been awhile since your last cholesterol screening, now's a good time to ask your doctor if you're due for one.
The good news? If your fasting total cholesterol level exceeds the desirable level of 200, or if your low-density lipoprotein ( LDL, or "bad”) cholesterol is not at your goal, getting it down to a safer level could be easier than you think.

  • Cut down on foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol. These include fatty meats, butter, cheese, whole-milk dairy products, egg yolks, shellfish, other fish, organ meats, poultry and solid fats (foods from animals). 
  • Enjoy at least 30 minutes of physical activities on most or all days of the week. 
  • Eat more foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in fiber. These include fruits and vegetables, whole grains and grain products, beans and peas, fat-free and low-fat milk products, lean meats and poultry without skin, fatty fish, and nuts and seeds in limited amounts. 
  • Lose weight if you need to. 
  • Ask your doctor about medicines that can reduce cholesterol (not recommended for all patients).


Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance found in the bloodstream and in all your body’s cells. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. The saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol you eat may raise your blood cholesterol level. Having too much cholesterol in your blood may lead to increased risk for heart disease and stroke. About half of American adults have levels that are too high (200 mg/dL or higher) and about 1 in 5 has a level in the high-risk zone (240 mg/dL or higher). The good news is that you can take steps to control your cholesterol.

Cholesterol and other fats can’t dissolve in your blood. To travel to your cells, they use special carriers called lipoproteins. Lowdensity lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is often called “the bad kind.” When you have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood, it can join with fats and other substances to build up in the inner walls of your arteries. The arteries can become clogged and narrow, and blood flow is reduced. If a blood clot forms and blocks the blood flow to your heart, it causes a heart attack. If a blood clot blocks an artery leading to or in the brain, a stroke results. A “good kind” of cholesterol, on the other hand, is called high-density lipoprotein (HDL). It carries harmful cholesterol away from the arteries and helps protect you from heart attack and stroke. It’s better to have a lot of HDL cholesterol in your blood.