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Cholesterol Lowering Foods

Food Fitness to Nourish Your Body

If you have high cholesterol, simple dietary changes can lower it by 5 to 10-percent, on average.

It may not sound like much, but that's a bold improvement -- a 10-percent reduction in blood cholesterol reduces your heart disease risk by about 20 to 30-percent.

See the lists below for foods that can help, and foods that can hurt. A diet that helps you beat high cholesterol is low in total fat, saturated fat and trans-fatty acids, with the right number of calories to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Often, losing even a few pounds makes a difference.

Tips To Lower Total Cholesterol

Three food types

  • Avoid high-fat meat.
  • Avoid full-fat dairy or high-fat processed foods.
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy, and lean poultry breast (without the skin).
  • Get more protein from seafood, soy and beans.
  • Eat 25 grams of soy protein a day. You will get there with about 2 heaping tablespoons of soy powder, or 2 cups of low-fat soymilk and 4 ounces of firm tofu. (If your cholesterol level is above 240 mg/dL, you may want to aim for 25 - 30 grams.)
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Use olive oil and pan sprays for cooking.
  • Enjoy small portions of foods that are rich in "good fats," such as nuts and seeds, as calories allow.

Foods To Avoid

Each of these foods is a significant source of saturated fat -- the major dietary culprit in high cholesterol. Trans fats are even worse; to limit them, avoid processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

  • Butter
  • Red meat (beef, pork, lamb)
  • Poultry skin
  • Stick margarineFast Foods
  • Fast foods (pizza, deep-fried foods, burgers, etc.)
  • Full-fat cheese
  • Canned shortening
  • Commercial donuts
  • Commercial cakes
  • Commercial cookies
  • Commercial pies
  • Whole Ice cream
  • Whole and 2-percent milk
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Coconut oil
  • Palm oil
  • Palm kernel oil

Low-Calorie, High-Fiber Winners

These foods are low in calories and high in fiber -- adding 6 grams of soluble fiber (one large orange and a cup of strawberries would do it) to your daily diet reduces harmful LDL cholesterol an average of 10 to 20-percent.

Pay attention to food color, too: Whole foods in a rich shade of red, orange, yellow or blue usually contain a health-promoting phytochemical.

  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Garlic and onions
  • Strawberries, citrus fruits, blueberries and other fruit of varying colors

Good Grains

Whole grains are rich in fiber; oatmeal's soluble fiber is especially efficient at lowering high LDL cholesterol.

  • Whole grains
  • Oatmeal
  • Oat bran

Good Fats

Use "good" fats in place of saturated fats -- nuts instead of cheese, olive oil instead of butter. But remember, even good fats have lots of calories, so don't overdo it. Gaining weight by itself can raise your blood cholesterol -- just as losing weight often lowers it.

Have a Drink On Us

Green tea and, to a lesser extent, black tea, contain antioxidants that guard LDL cholesterol from the free radicals that endanger your arteries. Many vegetables and fruits also contain LDL-protective antioxidants.

Alcohol in moderation typically raises levels of protective HDL cholesterol, though it doesn't lower harmful LDL. One drink a day lowers heart disease risk for a woman; two do the trick for a man. Red wine also contains beneficial antioxidants. Make sure that you account for the calories provided in alcohol -- at 20 calories an ounce, it adds up fast!

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Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.