How should I eat if I have high cholesterol?

Julie Bolick
Cholesterol Management Specialist

Consuming a heart-healthy diet will aid cholesterol reduction. A heart-healthy diet is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in unsaturated fats and fiber.

Start by:

  • Strictly avoiding deep fried foods. 
  • Choose lean meat cuts the size of a deck of cards from the round and loin, trimmed of fat and prepared by baking, broiling or grilling once per week.
  • Include 4 ounces of fatty fish from salmon, trout, albacore tuna, twice weekly.
  • Include a meatless meal of legumes (cooked, dried beans) at least once per week.
  • The balance of meals should include skinless, white meat of poultry (chicken or turkey).
  • Choose skim or 1 percent fat milk and low- or non-fat yogurt and cheeses.
  • Include fruit and whole grains and generous amounts of vegetables.
  • Use oil in cooking and salad dressings. Add olives and avocados to sandwiches and salads.
  • Include 1 ounce of raw nuts daily.
  • Choose oats, psyllium seeds or husks, citrus fruits, brussel sprouts as a source of soluble fiber to aid cholesterol reduction.

To manage cholesterol it is best to eat fish twice a week and eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Avoid fried foods or prepackaged foods.

If you have high cholesterol, your doctor will likely recommend that you minimize foods high in saturated fats, which raise total cholesterol. He or she will also want you to minimize—or eliminate completely—any trans fats, because they do a double whammy, raising low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol while lowering good high-density lipoprotein (HDL). The best way to manage your cholesterol is to focus more on monounsaturated fats instead, like olive oil, avocados and nut fats. These not only reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) but also can help boost good cholesterol. Your doctor will also likely encourage you to enjoy a wide variety of fiber-rich foods, including soy, produce, legumes and whole grains like oats and barley. Foods like fish with high omega-3 fatty acids also lower LDL, as do foods fortified with sterols and stanols from plants.

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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.