( Low-Density Lipoprotein [LDL] Lowering Diet)
Your Cholesterol Levels
- Total cholesterol—Your total cholesterol should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL [11.1 mmol/L]). However, what is even more important is the breakdown of LDL and HDL cholesterol.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol—Also known as bad cholesterol, tends to build up along your arteries. Bad cholesterol levels are increased by eating fats that are saturated or hydrogenated. This level should be less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L).
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol—Also known as good cholesterol. It actually carries bad cholesterol away from your arteries and may, therefore, help lower your risk of having a heart attack. This level should be 60 mg/dL (3.3 mmol/L) or above.
Diet and Cholesterol
Fats that increase LDL levels and should be avoided or limited:
Found in margarine and vegetable shortening, shelf stable snack foods, and fried foods; increases total blood cholesterol, especially LDL levels
Hydrogenated or trans fat
Found in margarine and vegetable shortening; increases total blood cholesterol, including LDL levels
Fats that improve cholesterol profile and should be eaten in moderation:
Found in oils such as olive and canola; can decrease total cholesterol level while keeping levels of HDL high
Found in oils such as safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn, and sesame; can decrease total cholesterol
Stanols and Sterols
Eating Guide for a Cholesterol-Lowering Diet
|Food Category||Foods Recommended||Foods to Avoid|
|Meat and beans||
|Fats and oil||
|Snacks, sweets, and condiments||
- Make whole grains, fruits, and vegetables the base of your diet.
- Look for products that are labeled as fat free, low-fat, cholesterol free, saturated fat free and trans fat free. However, a product can claim no grams trans fat, even on the label, but still have a small amount. Be sure to look for partially hydrogenated oil. If a product has this, avoid it.
- Become familiar with the Nutrition Facts panel, which lists information, such as the amount of calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol per serving of the item.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna; flaxseed; walnuts; canola oil. Eating fish at least 2 times a week is more effective than omega-3 fatty acid supplements. In fact, evidence about the benefits of supplements is not conclusive.
- Prepare foods by using low-fat methods, such as steaming, boiling, grilling, poaching, baking, broiling, or roasting. If you are sautéing or stir frying, use a cooking spray or small amount of vegetable oil.
- Trim any visible fat off meat or poultry before cooking. Drain the fat after browning.
- Limit high-fat sauces. Add zest to foods by topping them with low-fat items such as fresh herbs, salsas, or chutneys.
- Increase fiber by adding fruit to your cereal or yogurt, beans to your salad, and choosing whole grain breads.
- Cook at home more often. Restaurant food tends to be high in fat and calories.
- Engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Talk to a registered dietitian for individualized diet advice.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics http://www.eatright.org
National Cholesterol Education Program http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca
About cholesterol. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/About-Cholesterol%5FUCM%5F001220%5FArticle.jsp. Updated October 11, 2012. Accessed February 13, 2013.
Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf. Accessed February 13, 2013.
Dietary recommendations for cardiovascular disease prevention. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated February 9, 2013. Accessed February 13, 2013.
Harland JI. Food combinations for cholesterol lowering. Nutr Res Rev. 2012;25(2):249-266.
Hypercholesterolemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated February 11, 2013. Accessed February 13, 2013.
Lowering your cholesterol with TLC. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/chol%5Ftlc.pdf. From December 2005. Accessed February 13, 2013.
What your cholesterol levels mean. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/What-Your-Cholesterol-Levels-Mean%5FUCM%5F305562%5FArticle.jsp. Updated February 8, 2013. Accessed February 13, 2013.
- Reviewer: Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
- Update Date: 02/13/2013 -
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