What should I look for related to cholesterol on a nutrition label?

Dietary cholesterol is directly related to cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol in the bloodstream builds up in the arteries and becomes a component of a fatty substance called plaque, which also contains calcium, scar tissue, and other substances. This plaque can lead to blockages in the arteries that can cause heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease (blockages in the legs).

As you move toward a more heart-healthy diet, one of the things you will want to do is carefully read the cholesterol information on the Nutrition Facts panel on the side or back of packaged foods that you buy. Cholesterol is listed on the label in milligrams. A low cholesterol food is defined by the Food and Drug Administration as 20 milligrams or less per serving. When reading labels, it may be helpful to remember that cholesterol only comes from animal products. You may also see "0 grams" of cholesterol and at first think a product is healthy, but that product may still be high in saturated fat and trans fat, which are not heart-healthy fats.

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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.