WELLNESS
10/16/2012 06:22 pm ET Updated Oct 17, 2012

Cholesterol Levels Improving In U.S. Adults, Study Shows

Our cholesterol levels are collectively going down, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The new study shows that levels of total cholesterol and levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol have decreased in adults between 1988 and 2010.

Overall, total cholesterol went from 206 milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood in 1988-1994 to 196 milligrams per deciliter in 2007-2010.

Researchers also found that levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol went down from 129 milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood in 1988-1994 to 116 milligrams per deciliter in 2007-2010.

Researchers also noted that more adults received lipid-lowering drugs during this time period, going up from 3.4 percent in 1988-1994 to 15.5 percent in 2007 to 2010.

"The favorable trends in TC, non-HDL-C, and LDL-C may be due in part to a decrease in consumption of trans-fatty acids or other healthy lifestyle changes, in addition to an increase in the percentage of adults taking lipid-lowering medications," the researchers wrote in the study. "They are unlikely to be the result of changes in physical activity, obesity, or intake of saturated fat."

The study was based on the cholesterol levels of participants in the National Health and Examination Surveys administered between 1988 and 2010. Researchers used information from 16,573 people in the 1988-1994 survey; 9,471 people in the 1999-2002 survey; and 11,766 people in the 2007-2010 survey.

Earlier this year, a study in JAMA also showed that cholesterol levels in kids and teens were getting better. However, one in 10 youths still had high cholesterol between 2007 and 2010, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers found.

It's important to keep cholesterol in check because too much of it can lead to heart disease and stroke by building up on the insides of your arteries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out.

For some foods that can help to lower cholesterol levels naturally, click through the slideshow:

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