10 Tips for Lowering Your Cholesterol Through Diet

High blood cholesterol is a risk factor heart disease. Changes to your lifestyle habits -- including your diet -- can do a lot to lower dangerously high levels of cholesterol. Just as poor dietary choices can raise cholesterol, specific healthy dietary choices can help lower them.

Limit saturated fat

Although the tide is changing, and saturated fats may not be as terrible as experts once thought, it’s still prudent to eat them in moderation and they may negatively affect your cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are found in red meat and full-fat dairy. Switch to low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose leaner cuts of meat, such as white-meat poultry, flank steak, and fish. Aim to keep saturated fat to less than 7% of your total daily calorie intake.

Eliminate trans fats

Trans fats are found in processed snack foods and commercially fried products. Trans fats deal your cholesterol a double whammy -- they lower your good cholesterol levels and increase your bad levels. The FDA has banned all trans fats as of 2018, but also extended the date for removing them from some products until 2020.

If a product has partially-hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list, it has trans fats, even if the label says “0 grams trans fats.” That’s because products with 0.5 gram of trans fat per serving can be labeled as containing “no trans fats.”

Eat unsaturated fats

Limit saturated and trans fats, but you don’t have to cut out fat altogether. Unsaturated fats -- both the poly and mono types found in nuts, olive oil, and avocados -- may actually improve your cholesterol levels when used as a substitute for saturated fats.

Increase your omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of unsaturated fat, are another priority to add to your diet. They don’t directly lower cholesterol levels, but they do raise your levels of good (HDL) cholesterol and contribute to reduced blood pressure. Find them in fatty fish, such as salmon, as well as walnuts and flax oil.

Eat more oatmeal

While you’re skipping the breakfast sausage and bacon, which are high in saturated fat, choose a cholesterol-lowering food instead. Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber, which provides 1-2 grams of the stuff that can help lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.

Have beans instead of meat

Instead of eating a fatty meat-based meal, exchange it for a bean dish once or twice or week. Beans are rich in soluble fiber and are filling and satisfying. Make a bean chili, have black bean tacos, or use lentils, instead of ground beef, for sloppy Joes.

Snack on nuts

Numerous studies support the fact that nuts, such as walnuts, peanuts, and almonds, boost heart health. Approximately two ounces daily lowers cholesterol levels, especially if yours are elevated.

Eat more fruit

Cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber is found in fruits, particularly apples, strawberries, grapes, and citrus. The fiber is in the pectin. Have the fruit as a snack in lieu of fatty, processed snacks.

Have some soy

Soy has some cholesterol-lowering effects. Enjoy edamame or soy milk, or use tofu in place of meat at a meal. About 2½ cups of soy milk per day can serve to lower your LDL cholesterol by 5-6%.

Add tomatoes

Tomatoes contain an antioxidant known as lycopene which research has shown to lower levels of LDL cholesterol in animals and humans. Eat the tomatoes cooked to get the most lycopene.

If you’d like to check your cholesterol levels or need to see a doctor for a checkup, call our Santa Ana office or click the button to schedule an appointment with Dr. Valdez.

You Might Also Enjoy...

The Link Between Diabetes and Obesity

Obesity is a major contributing factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. Because it’s a chronic condition that can lead to fatality if left untreated, we’re here to provide you with effective ways to lower your weight and your risk.

What Every Woman Should Know About Heart Disease

Women and men are different in many ways, but when it comes to heart disease, the differences are huge. Find out about the unique risks women face when it comes to cardiovascular disease and how you can improve your heart health.

Treatment of Hypertension in the Elderly

As you age, your risk for hypertension increases. Having hypertension increases your risk of stroke, heart failure, and more. Jose Valdez, MD explains what you can do to stay healthy and manage your hypertension as you enjoy your golden years.

Asthma Attack Triggers You Should Be Aware Of

Asthma attacks can disrupt your life. The wheezing, hacking, and breathlessness are debilitating, and in extreme cases, asthma can threaten your life. Find out the most common asthma triggers so you can take steps to keep your asthma under control.