Low Cholesterol Diet: Eat Your Way to Healthy Cholesterol Levels
A low cholesterol diet is the most important thing you can do to reduce your LDL cholesterol level, reaching and maintaining ideal cholesterol levels. This diet calls for limiting certain types of dietary fat, specifically increasing dietary fiber, and increasing consumption of plant-based sources of protein. This guide will provide tips on how to follow a low cholesterol diet and what foods to eat for optimal health.
What is a Low Cholesterol Diet?
A low cholesterol diet is a diet that focuses on limiting unhealthy dietary fats while increasing dietary fiber and plant-based sources of protein. It can also include eating limited amounts of fatty fish, legumes, and whole grains. This diet helps decrease your LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, and can help improve your total cholesterol level.
Foods to Avoid
When trying to lower your cholesterol, it is important to avoid foods that are high in unhealthy saturated and trans fats. Doing so can help reduce your LDL cholesterol levels. The following are some foods to avoid on a low cholesterol diet:
- Fried foods
- High-fat processed meats (bacon, sausage, hot dogs)
- High-fat dairy products (whole milk, butter, and cheese)
- Trans fats (commercial baked goods, fast food)
- Processed foods (white bread, pasta, white rice)
Foods to Include
A low cholesterol diet is rich in dietary fiber, plant-based proteins, and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. The following are some foods to include in your low cholesterol diet:
- Fruits and vegetables: Apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, eggplant, peppers, spinach, and kale.
- Whole grains: Oats, brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread and pastas.
- Lean proteins: Fish (especially fatty fish like salmon), skinless poultry, tofu, and lean cuts of beef and pork.
- Nuts, seeds, and legumes: Walnuts, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, black beans, and lentils.
- Healthy fats: Avocado, olive oil, and canola oil.
In addition to eating a healthy diet, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to further improve your cholesterol levels.
- Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week.
- Quit smoking.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Men not exceed two drinks per day and women not exceed one drink per day.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
Following a low cholesterol diet can help reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your total cholesterol levels. A low cholesterol diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, and legumes, and low in unhealthy processed and fried foods. Additionally, exercise regularly, quit smoking, limit alcohol consumption, and maintain a healthy weight to further improve your cholesterol levels.
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