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Diet and Nutrition

Cholesterol free diet

03/24/1999

Question:

Diet for a person who has high cholesterol

Answer:

Thanks for your question. Low fat, low cholesterol diet is the first line of treatment for a person with high cholesterol. Having high blood cholesterol is a risk for coronary artery disease, so you`re wise to lower it now.

Saturated fat, which is solid at room temperature, raises blood cholesterol. Try to limit foods containing saturated fat (regular lunch meats, bacon, sausage, fatty cuts of red meat, butter, lard, cheese or milk containing whole milk, and chicken skin). Trans fatty acids (found in margarine, fried foods, fast foods and processed cookies and crackers) can also raise cholesterol levels. Don`t be fooled by "low cholesterol" margarine. Cholesterol is only found in animal foods, but fat can be in any foods made with fat or fried in fat. So, limit trans fatty acids in your diet as well. Choose liquid oils when cooking if possible (olive oil, peanut oil, and canola oil are good choices).

Baking, broiling and grilling are easy low fat cooking methods to replace frying. Basically the less fat you cook with or add to the food you eat, the less fat that ends up in your body. When reading labels, foods with less than 3 grams of fat per serving are considered "low fat". In general, the food should have 3 grams of fat or less per 100 calorie serving.

Foods high in cholesterol (such as liver, egg yolks, shellfish and other animal foods) should also be limited in the diet, although the relationship between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol is not as clear as dietary fat and blood cholesterol. In general, 4 egg yolks per week is safe, liver or organ meats 1-2 times per month is acceptable. If you eat shellfish, use low fat cooking methods whenever possible.

Foods high in soluble fiber aid in lowering blood cholesterol. These include oats, fruits (citrus, apples, grapes, pears, dried fruits) and dried beans (lentils, kidney beans, pintos, etc.)

Increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet will also increase antioxidants. Antioxidants help "depollute" your blood and aid in preventing cancer and heart disease. Garlic, onions and other herbs also contain substances that aid in disease prevention.

In addition to a healthy, low fat diet, smoking cessation will also help lower blood cholesterol. Smoking has been linked with both heart and lung disease as well as many cancers. So, if you smoke, try to quit. Regular exercise will also aid in cholesterol reduction. Walking, biking or swimming will also increase your heart rate and improve muscle tone. Check with your doctor first if you haven`t exercised in a while.

For more information on low cholesterol diets, check out the websites listed below. Good luck to you!

Related Resources:

Consumer Information Center

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Response by:

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Adjunct Faculty
University of Cincinnati