Foods that may help lower your cholesterol level
You can lower your LDL cholesterol and raise your HDL cholesterol by taking cholesterol-lowering medicine, getting regular exercise and/or making changes to your diet.
The following are ways to make diet changes.
- Eat less fat. You can lower your blood cholesterol and triglycerides by lowering the fat (butter, margarine, gravy) and fatty foods (lunch meat, french fries, baked goods) you eat.
- Eat less saturated fat. Animal fats (such as whole milk, cheese or steak) and some vegetable oils (such as palm kernel, or coconut) have high amounts of saturated fat. Saturated fat raises your LDL. Limit to less than 12 to 14 grams for women and less than 16 to 18 grams for men each day.
- Use as little trans fat as possible. Read the ingredients lists on food labels. Avoid products with "partially hydrogenated oil."
- Limit cholesterol found in meat fish, poultry and egg yolks. Use less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol in your diet each day.
- Lose weight if you need to. No more than 30 percent of your calories should come from fat. Decrease your daily calories and increase exercise to lose weight, lower your cholesterol and lower your LDL.
Eat no more than four to seven ounces of fish, poultry or lean meat every day. Try to include some meat-free meals in your weekly diet.
- Choose 4 ounces of fish twice a week (such as tuna, salmon, herring, lake trout, halibut or sardines), chicken or turkey (no skin), lean cuts of beef, pork, lamb or shellfish.
- Avoid or limit bacon, organ meats (such as liver), bologna, hot dogs, sausage, salami, liverwurst, marbled cuts of meat (such as T-bone steak or roasts).
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance suspended in your blood. It is made by your liver and is also found in some foods you eat.
Your total cholesterol blood test value includes three parts:
- LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is "bad" cholesterol. When too much LDL builds up on your artery walls, plaque forms and blocks blood flow. This can cause heart disease, peripheral artery disease and stroke.
- HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol is the "good" cholesterol. HDL helps to get rid of extra cholesterol from your blood and tissue. This may prevent or reverse blood vessel problems by taking the cholesterol from the plaque.
- Triglycerides is a fat digested from food that is released into your bloodstream. It either gives your body energy or it is stored as fat. Triglycerides come from dietary fat, high sugar foods, too much alcohol or too many calories.
Using 26 to 50 grams of soy in place of animal protein each day can help lower your cholesterol.
- Choose tofu, soymilk, soy nuts, soy burgers and soy chips.
Eat two to four servings of non-fat or low-fat dairy products every day.
- Choose non-fat skim or 1 percent milk or yogurt; low-fat cheeses (less than 2 to 6 grams fat per ounce) such as cottage cheese, part-skim mozzarella, farmer's cheese or ricotta; low- or non-fat sour cream or cream cheese; low-fat frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbet or ice milk.
- Avoid or limit whole or 2 percent milk and high fat cheeses (such as cheddar, Swiss, Colby, bleu or brie), ice cream, halfand-half and whipped cream or frozen toppings or desserts made with trans fat or "partially hydrogenated oil."
Fats and oils
Eat no more than three to five servings of fats and oils each day (one serving is equal to five grams of fat). Saturated fats and fats that are high in trans-fatty acids promote plaque formation.
- Choose unsaturated liquid oils (such as olive, canola, peanut or flaxseed oil), spreads (such as Benecol® or Take Control®), tub margarines with zero grams trans fat, low-fat mayonnaise or salad dressings, non-hydrogenated peanut butter, nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts or pistacchios), avocados, olives and seeds.
- Avoid or limit butter, lard, bacon fat, coconut, coconut oil, palm kernel oil and chocolate.
- Eliminate trans fats (partially hydrogenated oil) or products made with hydrogenated oils.
An occasional egg (one egg yolk) for breakfast may not be of concern. Take out all but one yolk per serving from the scrambled eggs or omelet dish you are making. Use cholesterol-free egg products when making egg meals more often.
- Choose egg substitutes or egg whites.
- Limit egg yolks to three each week.
Fruits and vegetables
Eat at least 1 cup each of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Choose fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables and dried fruits.
- Limit fried vegetables or vegetables made in butter, cream or other sauces.
Starches, grains (breads) and legumes
Eat four to 10 ounces every day. Choose whole grain products. One ounce is generally one-half cup cooked product.
Try to eat 25 grams or more of fiber each day.
- Choose low-fat baked goods (such as angel food cake), low-fat crackers, English muffins, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, corn, potatoes, dried peas, beans, whole-grain breads and cereals, Melba toast, graham crackers, pretzels, bread sticks and hot cereals.
- Limit high-fat baked goods (such as pies, cakes, pastries, muffins, doughnuts, croissants, quick breads, cookies, crackers), granola, potato chips, tortilla chips, french fries, onion rings and egg noodles.