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Nutrition Library: Eating for Disease Management

What is a low cholesterol diet?

The body makes the cholesterol it requires. In addition, cholesterol is obtained from food. Dietary cholesterol comes from animal sources such as egg yolks, meat (especially organ meats such as liver), poultry, fish, and higher fat milk products. Many of these foods are also high in saturated fats.

Choosing foods with less cholesterol and saturated fat will help lower your blood cholesterol levels. You can keep your cholesterol intake lower by eating more grain products, vegetables and fruits, and by limiting intake of high cholesterol



Fats and Oils

  • Use fats and oils sparingly in cooking and at the table.
  • Use small amounts of salad dressings and spreads such as butter, margarine, and mayonnaise. Consider using lowfat or fat-free dressings for salads.
  • Choose vegetable oils and soft margarines most often because they are lower in saturated fat than solid shortenings and animal fats, even though their caloric content is the same.
  • Check the Nutrition Facts Label to see how much fat and saturated fat are in a serving; choose foods lower in fat and saturated fat.

Grain Products, Vegetables, and Fruits

  • Choose lowfat sauces with pasta, rice, and potatoes.
  • Use as little fat as possible to cook vegetables and grain products.
  • Season with herbs, spices, lemon juice, and fat-free or lowfat salad dressings.

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Beans, and Nuts

  • Choose two to three servings of lean fish, poultry, meats, or other protein-rich foods, such as beans, daily. Use meats labeled "lean" or "extra lean."
  • Trim fat from meat; take skin off poultry. (Three ounces of cooked lean beef or chicken without skin -- a piece the size of a deck of cards —provides about 6 grams of fat; a piece of chicken with skin or untrimmed meat of that size may have as much as twice this amount of fat.)
  • Most beans and bean products are almost fat-free and are a good source of protein and fiber.
  • Limit intake of high-fat processed meats such as sausages, salami, and other cold cuts; choose lower fat varieties by reading the Nutrition Facts Label.
  • Limit the intake of organ meats (three ounces of cooked chicken liver have about 540 mg of cholesterol); use egg yolks in moderation (one egg yolk has about 215 mg of cholesterol). Egg whites contain no cholesterol and can be used freely.

Milk and Milk Products

  • Choose skim or lowfat milk, fat-free or lowfat yogurt, and lowfat cheese.
  • Have two to three lowfat servings daily. Add extra calcium to your diet without added fat by choosing fat-free yogurt and lowfat milk more often.
  • [One cup of skim milk has almost no fat, 1 cup of 1 percent milk has 2.5 grams of fat, 1 cup of 2 percent milk has 5 grams (one teaspoon)


Reprinted with permission from the United States Department of Agriculture

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