What is a cholesterol healthy diet?

What is a cholesterol healthy diet?

About 93 million Americans over 20 years old, close to 40% of the U.S. population, have high cholesterol. The CDC states that having high cholesterol raises the risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death, and for stroke, the fifth leading cause of death. But experts say there are ways to combat it.

“One of the major risk factors that we can control is what we put into our bodies,” said Sheila Weis, a physician assistant specializing in cardiovascular disease. “Limit foods high in saturated fats like cheese, fatty meats and dairy desserts, choose foods low in saturated fats and trans fats like seafood, whole grains, vegetables, and eat foods high in unsaturated fats such as avocado, olive oil and nuts.”

A diet high in saturated/trans fats, lack of physical activity and tobacco use can put you at risk. Other risk factors include include Type 2 diabetes, obesity and age.

The Heart Foundation recommends eating a wide variety of foods from the five food groups — fruits, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy — which not only helps maintain a healthy and interesting diet but provides essential nutrients for the body.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat like substance made by your liver, and it is essential for good health. Your body needs it to perform many essential tasks such as making hormones and digesting fatty foods. However, your body makes all the cholesterol it needs so it is important to minimize the amount of cholesterol you eat in your diet.

Weis shares a list of simple food swaps that can make a big difference in your cholesterol levels:

  • Nuts instead of croutons
  • Popcorn instead of chips
  • Avocado oil over vegetable oil
  • Greek yogurt instead of sour cream
  • Ground turkey instead of ground beef
  • Quinoa flakes instead of other cereals
  • Hummus instead of fatty, creamy dips
  • Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate
  • Canadian bacon instead of regular fatty bacon
  • English muffins instead of bagels, croissants or muffins
  • Vinegar and lemon juice instead of creamy salad dressings

“High cholesterol doesn’t present with symptoms. You can’t feel it, but it is something you should pay attention to so that you stay healthy,” Weis said. “It is recommended you get your cholesterol checked every five years for people age 20 or older who are at low risk for cardiovascular disease, or more frequently than every five years for people who have increased risk factors. Talk to your doctor about getting tested and what you can do to keep your cholesterol numbers where they need to be.”

Now is the perfect time to make an appointment with a primary care physician. Whether you live in Illinois or Wisconsin, it’s easy to find a doctor near you. 

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  1. Question, how important is your Cholesterol ratio in determining if you need to take medication

  2. Great article, very useful. What about noodles in this type of diet ?
    If ok how many times a week ? 1 or 2 depending on type ?

  3. Appreciate your recommendations but I think recommending just quinoa flakes and just avocado oil is too restrictive. There are so many other healthy high-fiber low-sugar cereals.

    Avocado oil is a great choice, and my wife cooks with it, but the ubiquitous extra- virgin olive oil is also heart healthy. Here is what Harvard Health Publishing says: “The health benefits of olive oil have been attributed to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, observational studies have shown a link between lower risks of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and even dementia in people who consume higher amounts of olive oil than those who use little or none.”

  4. The best way to avoid cholesterol in one’s diet is to eliminate animal products. Cholesterol is found only in animal products, not in plant-based foods.

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About the Author

Amy Werdin
Amy Werdin

Amy Werdin, health enews contributor, is a provider public affairs coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has been with the organization for 19 years, starting out in marketing for Advanced Healthcare, then Aurora Health Care and now in her current role. She enjoys reading, movies and watching her two daughters dance and her son swim.