Cholesterol Lowering Diet
An important aspect of a diet to lower cholesterol is reducing the amount of animal products you eat. Many animal products are high in cholesterol and saturated fats. Saturated fats actually raise blood cholesterol more than cholesterol itself. Foods high in cholesterol or saturated fat include:
- Processed meat (such as salami and bologna)
- Visibly fatty red meat
- Organ meat
- Other high-fat meats (such as sausage and bacon)
- Egg yolks
- Ice cream.
Suggestions for cutting back on animal products while maintaining proteins as part of a cholesterol lowering diet include the following:
- Be sure to choose only the leanest meats, poultry, fish, and shellfish
- Try substituting skim (fat-free) or low-fat (1 percent) milk and cheese and low-fat or nonfat yogurt
- Instead of butter, use margarine or vegetable oils that are low in saturated fat and contain little or no trans fat
- Use egg whites (which have no cholesterol) instead of egg yolks
- Try high-protein, plant-based foods, such as soy, tofu, and edamame.
As mentioned earlier, saturated fats are the main cause of increased cholesterol in a diet. Another type of fat, called trans fatty acid (trans fat), has also been shown to increase the level of LDL ("bad" cholesterol), although not as much as saturated fats. Trans fat also decreases HDL (the "good" cholesterol).
Trans fat is found in:
- Vegetable shortening
- Fried foods
- Baked goods
- Salad dressing
- Many processed foods.
You can tell if a food contains trans fat by looking at the ingredient list on the food label. If the ingredient list includes the words "shortening," "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil," or "hydrogenated vegetable oil," the food contains trans fat. Because ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance, smaller amounts are present when the ingredient is close to the end of the list. You can also tell if a food contains trans fat by looking under "fat" on the food label. Trans fat is often listed just after saturated fat.
If you are looking for ways to reduce saturated fats and trans fats as part of a lowering cholesterol in your diet, consider the following suggestions:
- Learn to read food labels. Food labels provide valuable information. An informed consumer is able to make better, heart-healthy food choices.
- Use other types of fats in your cooking. In order to maintain a low cholesterol diet, choose "good" fats high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, peanut oil, and avocados.
- Try margarine that features unsaturated liquid vegetable oils as the first ingredient. Choose soft tub or liquid margarine or vegetable oil spreads.
- Limit butter, lard, fatback, and solid shortenings. They are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Buy light or nonfat mayonnaise and salad dressing instead of the regular varieties that are high in fat. For example, two tablespoons of regular Italian dressing can add as many as 14 grams of fat.