Food and Cholesterol

Saturated fat, trans fat and dietary cholesterol can raise your blood cholesterol level. These fats are found in meats, dairy products, coconut oil, palm kernel oil and hydrogenated oils. You can reduce the amount of these fats in your diet by following these steps.

Tip: By following the low-fat diet you will also be reducing the “bad” fats that raise blood cholesterol levels!

1. Reducing Cholesterol – Raising Fats in Your Diet

  • Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are naturally low in cholesterol.
  • Use low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, cheese and sour cream instead of the full fat varieties.
  • Limit foods containing hydrogenated oils and tropical oils such coconut and palm kernel oils.
    Tip: Hydrogenated oils and tropical oils will be listed under “Ingredients” directly under the Nutrition Facts Label.
  • Choose lean beef, pork, poultry with the skin removed or fish instead of fatty meats.
  • Substitute beans, nuts, seeds and tofu when cooking for meatless meals.
  • Prepare foods by baking, broiling, grilling or steaming rather than frying.
  • Substitute liquid oils or trans fat free margarines for butter, vegetable shortening, stick margarine and lard.
  • Select fat-free or low-fat salad dressings containing unsaturated oils such as olive, canola, soybean and safflower varieties.
  • Choose vegetable or broth based soups over cream soups.
  • Top pastas, rice and potatoes with low-fat sauces, tomato or vegetable sauces, or salsa.

2. Read the Nutrition Facts Label

The best way to decide if a food is low in cholesterol is to read the Nutrition Facts Label. Nutrition Facts Labels are found on the packaging of most foods.

Tip: Foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables do not have a Nutrition Facts Label, but they are naturally low in cholesterol

What Do I Look At?

  • Serving Size – the cholesterol content is listed for one serving. Be aware of how many servings you are eating.
  • Cholesterol – limit 300 milligrams (mg) per day.
  • % Daily Value – tells you how much of each nutrient is provided per serving.

Remember This Rule:
5% or less is low. Aim for foods low in cholesterol.
20% or more is high. Avoid foods high in cholesterol.

Example: The % Daily Value for cholesterol is 10%. This food is therefore not low in cholesterol (5% or less) or high in cholesterol (20% or more). Most of the foods we eat should be low cholesterol. Foods high in cholesterol (20% or more) should be avoided.