Low Cholesterol Foods
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are foods low in cholesterol. While poultry and most fish also contain little cholesterol, you should limit the total amount to 5 ounces or less per day. Although incorporating such foods into your diet is good, you also need to look for foods low in saturated fat and trans fat.
If you walk down any aisle of a grocery store, you will see products labeled "no cholesterol" or "low cholesterol." What does this mean? In some respects, it is a marketing gimmick. In fact, stores could put a sign above the entire produce section that says, "Cholesterol Free" because cholesterol is only found in products that originate from animals (see High Cholesterol Foods). Plant-based products have no cholesterol.
It's important to remember that eating low cholesterol foods is just one part of the equation. Saturated fat actually increases blood cholesterol more than cholesterol itself, and food with trans fatty acids (trans fat) can also increase blood cholesterol. So while looking for low cholesterol foods is important, you also need to look for foods that are low in saturated fat and trans fat.
The ultimate "low cholesterol foods" are cholesterol free foods (food that comes from a plant). Foods that have no cholesterol and should be part of any low cholesterol diet include:
- Whole grains and legumes.
As part of a cholesterol lowering diet, you should be eating at least 3 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables and 6 to 11 servings of whole grains and legumes each day. Fruits and vegetables are low in saturated fat and total fat, and have no cholesterol. A diet high in fruit and vegetables may also help keep cholesterol levels low. So fruits and vegetables are great substitutes for foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Breads, cereals, rice, pasta, and other grains, and 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.