Lowering Cholesterol with Chronic Kidney Disease

By DaVita Dietitian Angela Brochu, RD, LDN

Is your cholesterol 200 or below? Good. Continue your current kidney diet and take your prescribed medications. Is your cholesterol over 200? Still good. You know why? Because, starting today, you can make healthy changes to lower your high cholesterol. If you know your cholesterol is higher than it should be, you may need to adjust your diet and discuss a change in medication with your doctor. A lipid profile test may be ordered to determine your levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol). Since you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), you are at a higher risk for developing heart and blood vessel problems. That’s why it’s vital to change your habits in order to lower cholesterol.

But perhaps you’ve modified your eating habits and tried medications, but still have a cholesterol level that’s above 200. Don’t give up. Sometimes even simple lifestyle changes can help lower your cholesterol. Talk to your doctor, nurse or dietitian to find what works best for you. Here are three ways to jump-start better cholesterol control:

1. Do something you can control: eat right

  • Avoid foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol such as whole milk, cheese and fat from meat.
  • Bake, grill, broil and roast your poultry, fish and meat. Choose lean cuts of meat and trim off any fat.
  • Eggs are an excellent source of protein, but the yolks are high in cholesterol. Try egg substitutes like Egg Beaters® or Scramblers®, or substitute two egg whites for a whole egg.
  • Eat at least two servings of fish every week. Salmon, tuna, herring and trout contain good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Try spreads like Benecol® or Take Control® in place of butter or margarine. Plant sterols and stanols in these spreads help lower cholesterol levels.
  • Choose oils that are high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats: canola, olive, peanut, corn, safflower, soybean and sunflower.
  • Read food labels and try to eliminate foods with trans-fats (found in hydrogenated oils, margarine and many commercially prepared snack foods).
  • Eat kidney-friendly fruits and vegetables.

2. Do something else you can control: get moving

Exercise is another approach to put cholesterol in its place. Get outside and walk. Grab your friends for a variety of fun activities like Frisbee®, baseball, softball, walking the dog, nature walks or gardening. Any activity that gets you up and moving is a great way to lower your cholesterol.

3. Do something more you can control: work with your healthcare team

It’s your life! Work together with your kidney healthcare team so they can help you improve your health by lowering your cholesterol. By confiding in your healthcare team about the steps you’re taking to prevent or lower excessive amounts of cholesterol, you can control the quality of your life.


It is said that in order to take care of others, you have to take care of yourself first. Lowering your cholesterol is a step toward taking care of yourself in order to be there for the loved ones in your life. So, eat right, get moving and start living a better life with the help of your kidney healthcare team.