Arnold Schwarzenegger says he's been 80% vegan the past 5 years and his 'bad' cholesterol is now so low his doctor thought he 'might be a different person'

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger said he'd been mostly vegan for the past five years.

  • The bodybuilding champ said he ate about 80% plant-based food and it kept his cholesterol low.

  • He also said he had an occasional treat like a steak, which experts say can keep a diet sustainable.

The bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger said he'd been eating a mostly plant-based diet for the past five years and it significantly lowered his cholesterol.

Schwarzenegger said in a recent edition of his email newsletter that about 80% of what he ate was vegan. He said he made an occasional exception for steak or Austrian wiener schnitzel — leaving room for treats in your diet can help avoid restriction and help you stick to a diet long term, experts previously told Insider.

The seven-time Mr. Olympia has been outspoken about the benefits of a vegan diet for health, inspiring a generation of vegan bodybuilders to build muscle on plant-based diets.

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He said it had helped him feel "healthier and younger overall" and aided in reducing his levels of LDL cholesterol, a type of cholesterol sometimes called "bad" cholesterol because it's linked to higher risk of heart disease.

"My bad cholesterol number is so low that my doctor thought I might be a different person," Schwarzenegger said in the newsletter.

Certain animal-based foods like fatty cuts of meat, processed meats like bacon and hot dogs, and dairy products like cheese are linked to higher cholesterol levels.

In contrast, veggies, especially leafy greens, and foods like whole grains, berries, and walnuts may help lower cholesterol without medication.

Consistent exercise can also help keep cholesterol levels low. Schwarzenegger, 74, continues to train regularly, previously sharing in his newsletter that his workout split was six days a week and he focused on a different body part each day.

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