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Cholesterol Lowering Diet Guide to Improve Blood Fats

Diet To Reduce Cholesterol Levels

Diet Information - Cholesterol Diet Guide - Cholesterol, Health & Diet - Healthy Heart Diet
Heart Disease & Women - Heart Diet Foods to Avoid - Heart Diet Day 1 - Heart Diet Day 2
Saturated Fat - Trans-Fats - Best Fats - Best Cooking Oils - Healthy Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol Lowering Diet (Part 1)

Three important risk factors for heart attack are: - high blood cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure) and excess body weight. Healthy cholesterol-reduced eating habits typically reduce all three risk factors. For example, it is possible to reduce the level of cholesterol in your blood by between 5 percent and 10 percent just by eating healthily. On average, reducing cholesterol by 1 percent can lower the risk of atherosclerosis by 2 percent.

Dietary Goals to Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

A healthy cholesterol lowering eating plan has four goals:

- To reduce total blood cholesterol
- To improve the ratio of HDL (good) to LDL (bad) cholesterol
- To reduce high blood pressure
- To maintain a healthy weight

Dietary Guidelines for Lowering High Blood Cholesterol Levels


In general, eat a nutrient-dense diet containing foods from all food groups (fruits; vegetables; grains; dairy foods; meat, poultry, fish, seeds, nuts and beans; fats and oils). Include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and choose lean meat (trimmed of all fat and skin), as well as low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Limit your total daily fat intake to 30 percent of calories, and reduce to a minimum your intake of saturates and trans-fats. Eat less than 6 grams of salt (sodium chloride) per day (2,400 milligrams of sodium).

1. Reduce Intake of Saturated Fat

This means reducing your intake of animal foods - most of which are major sources of saturated fat in the typical American diet. For example, butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, and cream all contain high amounts of saturated fat. Saturated fatty acids are also found in all meat, as well as poultry, fish, and shellfish, although the latter generally contain less saturates than meat.

  • Avoid processed meats (eg. bacon, bologna, salami, hot dogs, and sausages)
  • Choose only very lean meat, skinless chicken or turkey, or any fish
  • Trim all visible fat/skin before cooking/eating
  • Avoid animal fats (solid at room temperature) like butter
  • Choose fats and oils with 2 grams or less saturated fat per tablespoon, such as liquid/tub margarines, canola oil and olive oil. Canola oil (rapeseed oil) and olive oil are high in monounsaturated fats. Recent research indicates that substituting monounsaturated fat for saturates reduces blood cholesterol levels.
  • Latest research also suggests that eating oily fish regularly can help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and improve the chances of survival after a heart attack. How fish oils do this, is unclear. It may be by helping to keep the heartbeat regular, reducing the level of triglycerides (fatty substances found in the blood), and preventing blood clots from forming in the coronary arteries.

2. Reduce Intake of Trans-Fats

The name "Trans-Fat" refers to any fat that starts as a polyunsaturated fat and is then "transformed" into saturated fat by a process called hydrogenation. It is also called hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat. The food industry uses hydrogenation to reduce rancidity, and to utilize cheaper fats. Latest medical evidence suggests that trans-fatty acids raise blood cholesterol even more than saturated fat. Trans-fats or hydrogenated fats are found in solid or semi-solid margarines, and in commercial cooking oils used in the manufacture of commercially baked goods, such as cookies and crackers, and in nondairy substitutes, such as whipped toppings, coffee creamers, cake mixes, and even frozen dinners. They also can be found in some snack foods like chips, candy bars, and buttered popcorn.

- When buying processed foods, especially margarine or baked goods, study food labels carefully
- Avoid foods that include "trans-fats", "hydrogenated fat" or "partially hydrogenated fat"

3. Reduce Total Fat Intake

An important goal in your blood cholesterol-lowering diet is to reduce your total fat consumption, as this is an effective way to eat less saturated or trans-fats.

  • Limit your intake to a maximum of 30 percent of calories per day
  • If your cholesterol level is high, your doctor may recommend a lower limit of 20-25 percent of calories
  • To reduce total fat, include vegetarian sources of protein in your weekly diet. Instead of meat, choose beans, nuts and seeds as well as other protein-rich vegetable options
  • While milk provides many essential nutrients, both 1 percent and skim milk provide the same nutrients as whole milk (3.3 percent) or 2 percent milk, while providing less saturated fat and cholesterol and fewer calories
  • Choose low-fat cheeses that have between 2 and 6 grams of fat per ounce. Best cheeses include: cottage cheese (low-fat), and farmer cheese (made with skim milk)
  • Regular ice cream is relatively high in hydrogenated fat and cholesterol. Eat it in small amounts and less often. Where possible, switch to lower-fat frozen desserts like ice milk, yogurt, sorbets, and popsicles.

4. Reduce Intake of Dietary Cholesterol

Previously, dietitians and cardiologists believed that a key step towards reducing elevated cholesterol levels was to lower consumption of cholesterol-containing foods, like eggs and organ meats. While this remains a dietary goal, the reduction of trans-fat intake is now considered more important.

- Eat no more than four egg yolks a week including those in processed foods and many baked goods.
- Egg whites contain no cholesterol and can be substituted for whole eggs in recipes.
- Avoid organ meats (brain, liver, kidney, sweetbread)
- Avoid high fat meats
- Avoid high fat dairy foods
- Substitute low-fat or fat-free dairy products for whole milk varieties

More Information about Cholesterol Reduction
Cholesterol Lowering Diet Plan (Part 2)
Cholesterol Diet Eating Plan and Menu
Cholesterol Diet: Food Servings
High Cholesterol Foods
Low Cholesterol Diet Recipes

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