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Lowering Dietary Cholesterol

To lower blood cholesterol levels, your diet needs to include:

  • 1. Foods low in cholesterol.
  • 2. Foods low in total fat, especially saturated fat.
  • 3. Foods that contain poly or monounsaturated fat to replace foods high in saturated fat.
  • 4. A calorie level appropriate to obtain/maintain desirable weight.

Select foods from the Food Pyramid in order to meet daily requirements for protein, vitamins, mineral, calories and other nutrients using the following suggestions:

Milk Group

  • Use skim or 1-percent milk to drink and in recipes that use whole milk or cream.
  • Use non fat or low fat sour cream in place of regular sour cream.
  • Use low fat or non fat processed cheese or skim milk cheese like mozzarella, ricotta or cottage cheese (check labels for skim milk as major ingredient).
  • Use sherbet, non fat frozen yogurt or sorbet in place of ice cream.

Meat Group

Limit intake of meat to four to six ounces per day (a 3 ounce portion is the size of a deck of cards). Use vegetable protein foods such as dried beans, dried peas, lentils and nuts more frequently to replace meat.

Select lean cuts of meat and extra lean ground beef that have equal to or less than five grams of fat per ounce.

Limit organ meats such as liver to no more than three ounces once per month.

Avoid eating poultry skin, as it contains large amounts of fat.

Include fish and shellfish frequently in diet. Avoid fried or broasted fish, fish in high fat sauces or fish dipped in butter.

Limit consumption of egg yolks to three a week (not more than one at a time) including eggs used in cooking. You may eat as many egg whites or egg substitutes as you want, since these do not contain cholesterol. Two egg whites can be substituted in some recipes for one egg.

Avoid use of high fat luncheon meats such as sausages, bologna, salami, weiners, bratwurst, etc. Luncheon meats that contain less than three grams of fat per ounce are acceptable.

  • Remove all visible fat from meat and avoid heavily marbled meat such as prime rib.
  • Roast, bake, broil, poach, or grill meats. Allow fat to drip off the meat. Avoid fried or broasted meats.
  • Do not baste meat with fatty drippings or additional fat, and avoid self-basting turkeys.
  • Roast meats at low oven temperature (330 to 350-degrees) to increase fat drip-off. High temperatures sear the meat, sealing in the fat.
  • For braising and stewing to tenderize tough cuts of meat, or when making soup, cook meat several hours or a day ahead, refrigerate and remove hardened fat.
  • Make fat-free gravy by stirring ice cubes into meat drippings, remove ice cubes before melted and remove any congealed fat.
  • Marinate lean, less tender cuts of meat in appropriate vegetable oil and vinegar or fat free salad dressing before cooking. Herbs and sauces made with tomato and fruit juices also add flavor and variety.

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Include more vegetables, as they are low in fat and high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Use fruit to replace high fat dessert items.
  • Avoid high fat sauces on vegetables, such as scalloped or augratin potatoes, cheese sauce, hollandaise sauce, etc. Use skim milk and margarine high in polyunsaturated fat if making a cream sauce.
  • Avoid fried or broasted vegetables such as French fries and hash browns.
  • Mix non fat yogurt and cut up fresh fruit together for a tasty fruit salad.
  • Breads and Cereals (Six to eleven servings a day)
  • Include more pasta, spaghetti, and rice and less meat at the main meal. Use whole grain cereal products, especially oatmeal or oat bran, which adds fiber to your diet.
  • Choose low fat grains, such as bagels, English muffins, pita bread and hard rolls.
  • Avoid cereal product items which contain coconut or granola cereals which contain coconut oil, animal or vegetable shortening.
  • Avoid croissants, crescent rolls, biscuits and muffins unless made with appropriate ingredients.
  • Avoid high fat snack foods. Try air-popped popcorn, pretzels, and low fat or fat free crackers.
  • Make baked goods and dessert with appropriate ingredients (egg whites, skim milk, polyunsaturated margarine, cocoa vs. chocolate, etc.).
  • Avoid high fat and fried food doughnuts, pastries, pies, cookies, etc.
  • Avoid chow mein noodles.


  • Use herbs and spices or butter flavored sprinkles instead of butter or other fats to season foods.
  • Limit quantities of margarine, oils, salad dressing to three to eight servings per day depending on calorie needs.
  • Use polyunsaturated margarine or oil instead of butter or shortening.
  • Look for margarine that contains two times more polyunsaturated fat than saturated fat. Read the labels. Example: Four grams polyunsaturated fat, two grams saturated fat.
  • Avoid food such as whipped topping and non-dairy creamers that contain coconut oil or palm oil which are high in saturated fat.
  • Remember, “No Cholesterol” does not mean low in saturated fat.

Limit foods high in sugar if you need to lose weight.


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