( Low-Density Lipoprotein [LDL] Lowering Diet)
This way of eating lowers your levels of bad and raises your levels of good cholesterol. Having too much bad and not enough good can lead to atherosclerosis. This is when plaque builds up in your arteries. This thins and hardens them. It also raises your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Cholesterol is one cause that plays into your risk of having a heart attack, heart disease, or stroke. Others are:
Eating this way may help if you are at high risk. The goal is to lower bad and raise good cholesterol.
Making changes to how you eat may help to lower your cholesterol.
Fat has many jobs. It carries fat soluble vitamins , protects organs, and makes you feel full. Fat can be broken down into four types:
Fats that should be not eaten or eaten in small amounts:
Found in margarine and shortening, snack foods, and fried foods, it raises total blood cholesterol, chiefly bad the bad type.
Hydrogenated or trans fat
Found in margarine and shortening, it raises total blood cholesterol, chiefly the bad type. It also lowers the good type.
Fats that help and should be eaten in moderation:
Found in oils such as olive and canola, it can lower total cholesterol level while keeping levels of the good type high.
Found in oils such as safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn, and sesame, it can lower total cholesterol.
Less than 5-6% of calories should come from saturated fat. Trans fat intake should be kept very low with a goal to remove them.
If you eat 2,000 calories a day, this is less than 13 grams of saturated fat per day. Most of the fats you eat should be mono- and polyunsaturated.
This is found only in animal products. It can raise bad levels, but saturated or trans fats are worse. You should eat as little as you can.
Eating foods that are high in soluble fiber can help lower your bad levels. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both are vital, but only soluble changes cholesterol levels. It breaks down into a gel that helps block fat and cholesterol in the blood.
It is found in foods such as oatmeal, oat bran, barley, soy products, apples, and strawberries. You should eat at least 5-10 grams per day. It's even better if you can eat 10-25 grams.
Stanols and Sterols
Stanols and sterols are found in certain plants. Plant stanols and sterols can lower bad levels by blocking them. They are now being added to foods like margarines and orange juice.
|Food||Foods to Eat||Foods to Not Eat|
|Meat and beans||
|Fats and oil||
|Snacks, sweets, and condiments||
- Make whole grains, fruits, and veggies the base of the foods you eat.
- Look for products that are labeled as fat free, low-fat, cholesterol free, saturated fat-free and trans fat-free. A product can say it doesn't have trans fat, even on the label, but still have a small amount. Be sure to look for partially hydrogenated oil. If it has this, do not eat it.
- Learn how to read a food label. It lists things like the amount of calories, fat, and cholesterol per serving.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna; flaxseed, walnuts, and canola oil. Eating fish at least two times a week is more helpful than taking pills.
Try all kinds foods and make changes based on what you like to eat. It may take some time to get used to new changes.
- Make foods using low-fat methods, such as steaming, boiling, grilling, poaching, baking, broiling, or roasting. If you are sautéing or stir frying, use a cooking spray or small amount of vegetable oil.
- Trim any fat off meat or poultry before cooking. Drain the fat after browning.
- Limit high-fat sauces. Add flavor to foods with fresh herbs, salsas, or chutneys.
- Raise your fiber by adding fruit to your cereal or yogurt, beans to your salad, and choosing whole-grain breads.
- Cook at home more often. When you eat out, the food tends to be high in fat and calories.
- Workout at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
- If you need to, talk with your doctor about the best ways to lose weight.
- Talk to a dietitian for help with meal plans.
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Dietitians of Canada
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf. Accessed February 3, 2021.
Dietary interventions for cardiovascular disease prevention. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/dietary-considerations-for-cardiovascular-disease-risk-reduction. Accessed February 4, 2021.
Hypercholesterolemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hypercholesterolemia. Accessed February 4, 2021.
Lowering your cholesterol with TLC. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/chol_tlc.pdf. Accessed February 4, 2021.
The skinny on fats. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Know-Your-Fats_UCM_305628_Article.jsp#.V9ll9DVuMpk. Accessed February 4, 2021.
What is cholesterol? American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/About-Cholesterol_UCM_001220_Article.jsp. Accessed February 4, 2021.
What your cholesterol levels mean. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/What-Your-Cholesterol-Levels-Mean_UCM_305562_Article.jsp. Accessed February 4, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN Last Updated: 2/4/2021