What is a low cholesterol diet?

A healthy diet low in cholesterol includes:
  • Limiting intake of meat, poultry, and seafood to 6 ounces (oz.) per day. Choose lean meats and fish (baked, broiled, or grilled), and poultry (without skin), instead of prime and choice cuts, ground beef, sausage, cold cuts, hot dogs, and fried foods.
  • Using low fat or fat-free dairy products. Choose skim milk, lowfat milk, lowfat/part-skim cheeses (< 3 grams (g) saturated fat/serving), and nonfat yogurt, instead of whole milk products, regular hard cheeses, cream soups, ice cream, cream and creamers, sour cream, and cream cheese.
  • Choosing the right types of fats. Choose olive oil, canola oil, safflower oil, and trans-fatty acid free margarines, instead of butter, lard, and partially hydrogenated margarines and vegetable oils.
  • Avoiding commercially prepared foods with partially hydrogenated fats, choose high fiber cereals, breads, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen), instead of doughnuts, biscuits, pastries, pies, french fries, fast food, crackers, cookies, cakes, and chips.
Michael J. Bloch, MD
Internal Medicine

Actually, when we talk about dietary modification of cholesterol, for most people the most important thing is not to adjust your diet to consume less dietary cholesterol, but to adjust the intake of the type of foods that your body uses to make cholesterol. If the goal is to reduce the LDL-C (or bad) cholesterol, usually that means decreasing the intake of saturated (found in fatty meats, dairy and processed foods), and trans fats (found in processed foods). Most poly-unsaturated and mono unsaturated fats (from fish and vegetable sources) are ok. If the goal is to reduce triglycerides or to lose weight, often it is important to look at the amount and type of carbohydrates being consumed as well.

Julie Bolick
Cholesterol Management
A low cholesterol diet should be part of a Therapeutic Lifestyle Change approach that includes low saturated fat (avoid high fat meats and dairy products - milk, yogurt, cheese), low cholesterol (organs meats, egg yolks, shellfish), no trans fats (stick margarine, vegetable shortening and foods that contain hydrogenated fats and oils), high soluble fiber (oats, psyllium, citrus fruits, pears and plums, legumes, Brussels sprouts), raw nuts and plant sterols and stanols, if cholesterol not at goal level with diet, exercise and weight management.
A low-cholesterol diet is part of the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) recommended by the CDC for lowering cholesterol as well as decreasing obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. In general, TLC is an effective therapy that includes weight management, increased physical activity and diet modifications. Some of the dietary changes that are recommended include lowering intake of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and salt and increasing intake of plant stanols/sterols, soluble fiber and fish. Some foods to avoid that are high in saturated fat, trans fat or cholesterol include whole-fat dairy products, vegetable oil, and fatty meats like beef or pork. For more information on the TLC approach, visit

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.