HealthSheets™


Understanding Food and Cholesterol

Having a high cholesterol level puts you at risk for heart disease and other health problems. What you eat has a big effect on your body’s cholesterol level. Eating certain foods can raise your cholesterol. Other foods can help you lower it. Watching what you eat can help you get your cholesterol level under control.

Know which foods are high in saturated fat and trans fat

Foods high in saturated fat and trans fat can raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol. It’s important to knowing which foods are high in these fats, and eat less of them. This can help you manage your cholesterol levels.

Foods high in these fats are:

  • Animal products, including beef, lamb, pork, and poultry with skin on

  • Cold cuts, bacon, sausage

  • Creamy sauces and fatty gravies

  • Cookies, donuts, muffins, and pastries

  • Fried foods

  • Shortening, butter, coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa butter, partially hydrogenated oils (read labels)

  • High-fat dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, cream cheese, and ice cream

Better choices:

  • Lean beef, skinless white-meat poultry, fish

  • Tomato sauce, vegetable puree

  • Dried fruit, bagels, bread with jam

  • Baked, broiled, steamed, or roasted foods

  • Soft (tub) margarine, canola oil, and olive oil in moderate amounts

  • Low-fat or nonfat dairy products, such as 1% or fat-free milk, and reduced-fat cheese

Use fiber to help control cholesterol

Foods high in fiber can help you keep your cholesterol down. Good sources of fiber are:

  • Oats

  • Barley

  • Whole grains

  • Beans

  • Vegetables

  • Cornmeal

  • Popcorn

  • Berries, apples, other fruits

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