3 Diet Plans for Better Cholesterol

3 Diet Plans for Better Cholesterol

What should you eat to lower your cholesterol? Choose an overall heart-smart diet and you'll see those numbers improve.

If you've been diagnosed with high cholesterol, your doctor has probably recommended a change in your diet to get your numbers down. Fortunately, you have several options when it comes to a cholesterol-smart diet. Which foods belong in your kitchen?

Go Mediterranean
Many studies indicate that the traditional Mediterranean diet is one of the most effective for improving unhealthy cholesterol numbers. Why? It replaces saturated fats with heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (such as olive oil, nuts and seeds), which can help lower your "bad" LDL cholesterol and may even raise your beneficial HDL levels. The Mediterranean diet also includes a wide variety of other cholesterol-improving foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fish.

Try a little TLC
The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) Diet, created by the National Institutes of Health, is similar to the Mediterranean diet in many ways. For example, it emphasizes lots of produce, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy, and fish. In addition, it also advocates keeping saturated fat to less than 7 percent of your daily calories, eating less than 200 mg of cholesterol a day and limiting your total fat consumption to less than 35 percent of your daily calories.

Invest in a healthy portfolio
One study found that a diet with a rich "portfolio" of cholesterol-lowering foods reduces cholesterol even better than a diet low in saturated fat. Which cholesterol-smart foods should you invest in? Consider these:

  • Plant sterols from sterol-fortified foods, such as margarine and orange juice
  • Soluble-fiber-rich oats
  • Barley
  • Psyllium
  • Beans and other legumes
  • Soy (from tofu, soymilk and soy "meat")
  • Nuts and seeds

Ask your doctor for advice on the best dietary strategy to improve your cholesterol.

Medically reviewed in October 2018.

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