When it comes to cholesterol-lowering diet it should be more than a long list of what you shouldn’t eat, it should be coupled with what you should eat. The American Heart Association and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s National Cholesterol Education Program recommend these guidelines for heart health and lower cholesterol:
- Total fat consumption each day should be between 25% and 35% of your daily calorie intake.
- Saturated fat intake needs to be less than 7% of your daily calorie intake.
- Trans fat intake should make up less than 1% of your daily calorie intake.
- Limit cholesterol in your diet to less than 200 milligrams (mg) every day if you already have high cholesterol.
- Consume no more than 2,400 mg of sodium (salt) each day. That includes salt you sprinkle on your food, and salt that’s already in packaged foods, so read labels.
- Limit alcohol to only one drink per day or less for women, two drinks a day or less for men.
The most important factor of a cholesterol-lowering diet is knowing how much food to eat, as well as what to eat. Common misconception is that healthy food allots you to eat more, but healthy foods have fat and calories and that can quickly add up. An easy solution on judging how much food you are consuming: one cup is about the size of your fist, one serving on meat should be the size of a deck of cards (three ounces).
Healthier Food Choices
If you are educated on how to choose, food can be delicious and heart healthy. There are lots of low-cholesterol options – here are few:
- Lean meats: Skinless chicken or turkey, lean beef (sirloin, chuck, round, loin), pork tenderloin, or pork loin.
- Light dairy: Dairy products are full of calcium which can also be high in fat. Try fat-free or low-fat dairy products like milk, cheese, cream, and yogurt.
- Fiber: Choose whole-grain products like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta. Fruits and vegetables are also great sources of fiber.
- Fruits and vegetables: Minimum of four to five servings of fruits and vegetables every day — the more variety, the better.
- Fish: Find ways to include fish into your diet at least twice each week.
*Avoid fatty meats, processed meats, high-sugar drinks, cookies and other desserts, and chips.
Eating vegetables or lean chicken won’t do you any good unless you prepare them in a healthy way. Try these cooking techniques to lower cholesterol and cut fat and calories:
- Avoid salt. Instead, season with fresh herbs, spices, or even a squirt of lemon juice.
- Don’t fry. Bake, grill, or broil your foods instead.
- Use vegetable oils. Sunflower oil, olive oil, or canola oil are low-cholesterol products and are more heart friendlier than butter, shortening, or margarine.
- Choose fresh. Choose the fresh veggies, fruits, and beans instead of canned or frozen, it will cut your sodium and calorie intake.
A cholesterol-lowering diet focuses on eating lots of the right foods, preparing them in a healthy way, avoiding or lowering your consumption of “bad” foods, and understanding how much food your body needs. And of course, it should also focus on eating delicious foods!