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Cholesterol Lowering Diet (2)
How to Adapt Diet Habits in Order to Reduce Blood Cholesterol
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Change Your Diet Habits - Lower Your Cholesterol

Reduce and Balance Your Fat and Cholesterol Intake

Look at your overall eating pattern and begin to plan. If you are eating few foods high in saturated fat, an occasional high-saturated fat food won't raise your blood cholesterol level. If you anticipate a high-saturated fat, high-cholesterol day, eat an especially low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol diet the day before and the day after. With a little planning, you can change your eating patterns and reduce your high blood cholesterol level.

Goal = Limit Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

Remember, the goal is to limit the saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet each day. You don't have to cut out all the high-saturated fat and high-cholesterol foods in your diet. Try to substitute one or two low-saturated fat or low-cholesterol foods each day, and soon you will reach your goal of a low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol diet.

Eat foods high in unsaturated fats and high in complex carbohydrates in place of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Make substitutions gradually and plan your meals ahead to adjust your diet and reduce your blood cholesterol level.

Shop for Foods That Are Low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

If you stock your kitchen shelves with foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, it will be much easier to adjust your eating habits. With a little direction you can learn to shop for these foods.

Food Groups

You must eat a variety of foods each day to get the nutrients you need. One way to do this is to choose foods from different food groups, which are categorized by the nutrients they provide. The number and size of portions should be adjusted to reach and maintain your desirable weight. Use the information in the following sections to identify specific foods in each of the food groups that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Food Groups & Servings

Meat, Poultry, Fish, and Shellfish
Up to 6 ounces a day
Dairy Products
2 servings a day; 3 servings for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
No more than 3 yolks a week
Fats and Oils
Up to 6-8 teaspoons a day
Breads, Cereals, Pasta, Rice, and Dried Peas and Beans
6 or more servings a day
Fruits and Vegetables
2-4 servings of fruit, 3-5 servings of vegetables a day
Sweets and Snacks
Avoid too many sweets

Meat, Poultry, Fish, and Shellfish

Meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish are important sources of protein and other nutrients in your diet. However, they also contain saturated fat and cholesterol. Lean beef is lower in saturated fat than beef short ribs. Chicken without skin has less saturated fat than chicken with skin. Haddock has less saturated fat and cholesterol than either chicken or meat. And, of course, foods with less fat contain fewer calories as well.

Choose the LEANEST Meats, Poultry, Fish, and Shellfish

To lower your blood cholesterol level, choose the leanest meats and poultry, fish, and shellfish. Remember, all of these foods contain some saturated fat and cholesterol. Therefore the amount you eat is also important. The recommended amount of meat, poultry, fish, or shellfish is up to 6 ounces each day. For variety, consider dried beans or legumes as a main dish. If larger, more filling main dishes are desired, extend meat with pasta or vegetables for hearty dishes. Eating a diet that includes a variety of foods is important because a food lowest in fat may not have the same vitamins and minerals as one a little higher in fat.

Beware Processed Meats
High-fat processed meats should be eaten infrequently because 60-80 percent of their calories come from fat - much of which is saturated. Some examples of these processed meats are bacon, bologna, salami, hot dogs, and sausage.

Organ Meats High in Cholesterol
Organ meats, like liver, sweetbreads, and kidneys are relatively low in fat. However, these meats are high in cholesterol.

In general, poultry is low in saturated fat, PROVIDED the skin is removed. Poultry is, therefore, an excellent choice for your new diet. When choosing poultry, keep these points in mind:

Fish and Shellfish
Most fish is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than meat and poultry. Therefore, usually a good substitute for meats and poultry.

Note: Shellfish varies in cholesterol content - some is relatively high and some is low - but all has less fat than meat, poultry, and most fish.

Dairy Products

Although many people believe that meats have the highest cholesterol and saturated fat content, dairy products that contain fat are also high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Since dairy products are often added to foods like casseroles, cakes, or pies, you might eat a significant amount of them without knowing it.

Milk provides many essential nutrients. And both 1% and skim milk provide the same nutrients as whole milk (3.3%) or 2% milk, while providing much less saturated fat and cholesterol and fewer calories.

Ease Your Way From Whole Milk to Skim Milk. Make the change gradually. Drink 2% milk for a few weeks, then 1%, and finally skim. With each step, you will decrease your intake of saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories.

Often, when people cut back on meat, they replace it with cheese, thinking they are cutting back on their saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. They couldn't be more wrong. Because they are prepared from whole milk or cream, most cheeses, while high in calcium, are also high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Ounce for ounce, meat, poultry, and most cheeses have about the same amount of cholesterol. But, cheeses for the most part have much more saturated fat. Also, cheese is not as good a source of some vitamins and minerals, especially iron, as meats. The following chart compares the saturated fat and cholesterol content in chicken, a relatively lean cut of meat, and some cheeses.

Choosing the Best Cheese for a Cholesterol Lowering Diet

- Natural and processed hard cheeses are highest in saturated fat.
- Low-fat and imitation cheeses may have less saturated fat.

Read the label and choose low-fat cheeses that have between 2 and 6 grams of fat per ounce. Best cheeses include:

- Cottage cheese (low-fat)
- Farmer cheese (made with skim milk)
- Pot cheese

Ice Cream
Ice cream is made from whole milk and cream and therefore contains a considerable amount of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. You do not need to eliminate ice cream, but do eat it in small amounts and less often. Try frozen desserts like ice milk, yogurt, sorbets, and popsicles which are low in saturated fat.

Egg yolks are high in cholesterol: each contains about 270 mg. Eat no more than three egg yolks a week including those in processed foods and many baked goods. Egg whites contain no cholesterol and can be substituted for whole eggs in recipes. For cakes or cookies, this substitution will be acceptable for 1-2 eggs in most recipes and up to 3-4 whole eggs in some.

Fats and Oils

In your cooking, limit the amounts you use of these saturated fats:

Solid Shortenings

- Instead of using butter as a spread or in recipes, substitute margarine.
- Choose liquid vegetable oils that are highest in unsaturated fats like safflower, sunflower, corn, olive, sesame, and soybean oils for your cooking and in your salad dressings.
- Peanut oil and peanut butter may be eaten in small amounts.
- Choose margarines and oils that have more polyunsaturated fat than saturated fat.

Hydrogenated Fats
Saturated fats often are found in commercially prepared products. Remember, some vegetable oils (like coconut, palm, and palm kernel oil) are saturated, and other vegetable oils can become saturated by hydrogenation - a process that solidifies them. They are called hydrogenated vegetable oils. Read the labels before deciding which products to buy.

Since avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds are high in fat, they are often grouped with fats and oils. Although the fat in nuts and seeds is mostly unsaturated fat, they are very high in calories.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain no cholesterol and are very low in fat and low in calories (except for avocados and olives, which are high in fat and calories). By eating fruits as a snack or dessert and vegetables as snacks and side dishes, you can increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and lower your intake of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol.

Breads, Cereals, Pasta, Rice, and Dried Peas and Beans

Breads, cereals, pasta, rice, and dried peas and beans are all high in complex carbohydrates and low in saturated fat. By substituting more foods from this group for high-saturated fat foods, you will:

- Decrease your saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, and calorie intake, and
- Increase your complex carbohydrate consumption.

Try pasta, rice, and dried peas and beans (like split peas, lentils, kidney beans, and navy beans) as main dishes, casseroles, soups, or other one-dish meals without high-fat sauces. Also, try recipes that use small quantities of meat, poultry, fish, or shellfish as flavoring or seasoning in casseroles rather than as the main ingredient.

Cereal products, both cooked and dry, are usually low in saturated fat - with the exception of those that contain coconut or coconut oil, like many types of granola. (Most granolas are high in fat.)

Breads and most rolls also are low in fat (for more fiber, choose the whole-grain types). However, many other types of commercially baked goods are made with large amounts of saturated fats. Read the labels on these products to determine their fat content. The ones listed below (as well as many others) are high in saturated fat:

High-Fat Breads

- Croissants
- Biscuits
- Doughnuts
- Muffins
- Butter rolls

Remember, you can make your own muffins and quick breads using unsaturated vegetable oils and egg whites. Two egg whites may be substituted for one egg yolk.

Sweets and Snacks

Sweets and snacks often are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. Examples of these foods are commercial cakes, pies, cookies, cheese crackers, and some types of chips. Once again, the key is to read labels carefully since some of these products may contain unsaturated fats and be low in total fat and calories.

As an alternative, try fruit for dessert. And for your next snack, try a piece of fruit, some vegetables, or a low-fat snack like unbuttered popcorn or breadsticks.

Read Food Labels - Study the Food Ingredients

All food labels list the product's ingredients in order by weight. The ingredient in the greatest amount is listed first. The ingredient in the least amount is listed last. To avoid too much total or saturated fat, limit your use of products that list a fat or oil first or that list many fat and oil ingredients. The checklist below helps you identify the names of common saturated fat an cholesterol sources in foods.

Sources of Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

Animal Fat
Egg and Egg-Yolks
Palm Kernel Oil
Bacon Fat
Ham Fat
Palm Oil
Beef Fat
Hardened Fat or Oil
Pork Fat
Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
Turkey Fat
Chicken Fat
Lamb Fat
Cocoa Butter
Vegetable Shortening
Whole-Milk Solids
Coconut Oil

See also: Cholesterol Diet (1) and Cholesterol


Cholesterol Help

If you want additional help in planning an approach to low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol eating, make an appointment with a registered dietitian or qualified nutritionist. They can help you design an eating plan particular to your own needs and preferences. Dietitians may be identified through a local hospital as well as through state and district affiliates of the American Dietetic Association. The American Dietetic Association maintains a roster of registered dietitians. By calling the Division of Practice (312) 899-0040 you can request names of qualified dietitians in your area. Others can be found in public health departments, health maintenance organizations, cooperative extension services, and colleges.

Sources: National Cholesterol Education Program National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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