Guidelines for a Low Cholesterol Diet
by Mary Rickard
High cholesterol risks your heart health, but it is a preventable condition and can be alleviated through diet and exercise. A low-cholesterol diet reduces consumption of saturated fat and increases fiber, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables.
A Healthy Diet
One of the best methods for lowering cholesterol is to lose weight, which alone could lower cholesterol by 10 percent to 20 percent, according to Web MD.
Changing your diet to heart-healthy will probably naturally reduce your body weight. The American Heart Association recommends a healthy person consume no more than 300 mg. of cholesterol from foods per day. Anyone with high cholesterol should eat less than 200 mg. Cholesterol is contained in meats, shellfish, poultry, egg yolks, whole milk, cheese and butter, so it is best to limit intake of those foods.
Saturated fats should be less than 7 percent and trans fats no more than 1 percent of your daily diet.
You can switch from butter to canola oil and olive oil, which have monosaturated fats, or to vegetable oils, which have polyunsaturated fats.
There are also margarines, including Smart Balance and Take Control, containing plant sterols and stanols that block absorption of trans fats and can actually lower the levels of "bad fat" by 6 percent when eaten three times daily, according to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Trans fat is found in fried foods, salad dressings, chips, crackers and cookies, for example. So, reduce your consumption of cakes, cookies, muffins and other sweets made with hydrogenated fats. Cut out chips and French fries and limit your consumption of whole-fat dairy products.
The American Heart Association also recommends limiting salt and alcohol.
Foods to Include
Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal, which naturally lowers cholesterol. Eat beans and lean meats, whole grains such as whole-wheat pasta and brown rice, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
Grill or broil meats and bake or steam fish, particularly oily fish containing omega-3 oils, at least twice a week.
Use herbs and spices to flavor food instead of salt and butter.