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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 know 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, and sausage

  • Creamy sauces and fatty gravies

  • Cookies, donuts, muffins, and pastries

  • Fried foods

  • Shortening, butter, stick margarine, 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, and fish

  • Tomato sauce, vegetable puree, and avocado

  • Dried fruit, nuts, and whole wheat bread with sliced fruit on top

  • 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, and other fruits

Online Medical Reviewer: Brittany Poulson MDA RDN CD CDE
Online Medical Reviewer: Diane Horowitz MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Lu Cunningham RN BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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