Diet to Lower Cholesterol
High cholesterol foods can raise blood cholesterol. Therefore, begin your low-cholesterol diet by increasing the amount of foods you eat that have no cholesterol. Foods that should be part of this diet because they contain no cholesterol include:
- Whole grains and legumes.
A diet to lower cholesterol should include at least three to five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Vegetables and fruits are low in saturated fat and total fat, and have no cholesterol. A diet high in fruits and vegetables may also help keep cholesterol levels low.
Cereals, breads, rice, pasta, and other grains, as well as dry beans and peas, are generally high in starch and fiber and low in saturated fat and calories. They also have no dietary cholesterol, except for some bakery breads and sweet bread products made with high-fat, high-cholesterol milk, butter, and eggs. Like fruits and vegetables, naturally low-fat, low-cholesterol breads and other foods in this group are also good choices as part of a low cholesterol diet. You should be eating 6 to 11 servings of foods from this group each day.
If you have high triglycerides and/or low HDL, you should keep your carbohydrate intake below the maximum of 60 percent of total calories. You can choose a diet up to 35 percent fat, substituting unsaturated fat for saturated fat.
The following are some suggestions for getting more plant-based foods into a diet to lower cholesterol:
- Add a variety of vegetables to meat stews or casseroles, or make a vegetarian main dish.
- Buy fruits and vegetables to eat as snacks, desserts, salads, side dishes, and main dishes.
- Wash and cut up raw vegetables (carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, etc.) and store in the refrigerator for quick and easy use in cooking or snacking.
- Serve fresh fruit (banana, berries, melon, grapes, etc.) for dessert or freeze it for a delicious frozen treat.
- Display fresh fruit in a bowl in the kitchen to make it easier to grab as a snack.
- To keep naturally low-fat vegetables low in fat and saturated fat, season with herbs, spices, lemon juice, vinegar, or fat-free or low-fat mayonnaise or salad dressing.
- Choose whole-grain breads and rolls more frequently. They have more fiber than white breads.
- Buy dry cereals, most of which are low in fat. Limit the high-fat granola, muesli, and oat bran varieties that are made with coconut or coconut oil and nuts, which increases the saturated fat content.
- Buy pasta and rice to use as entrées. Hold the high-fat sauces (butter, cheese, cream, white, etc.).
- Limit sweet baked goods that are made with lots of saturated fat -- mostly from butter, eggs, and whole milk -- such as croissants, pastries, muffins, biscuits, butter rolls, and doughnuts. These are also high in cholesterol.