Choose a Diet Low in Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is made in the body by the liver. Cholesterol forms part of every cell in the body and serves a number of vital functions.

The body makes the cholesterol it requires. In addition, cholesterol is obtained from food. Dietary cholesterol comes from animal sources such as egg yolks, meat (especially organ meats such as liver), poultry, fish, and higher fat milk products. Many of these foods are also high in saturated fats.

Following a Diet with low saturated fat and low cholesterol will help lower your blood cholesterol levels. The Nutrition Facts Label lists the Daily Value for cholesterol as 300 mg. You can keep your cholesterol intake at this level or lower by eating more grain products, vegetables and fruits, and by limiting intake of high cholesterol foods.

For a person with a cholesterol problem a registered dietitian should teach you about the TLC Diet, help you chose foods and plan menus, monitor your progress, encourage you to stay on the TLC Diet, and help you to adjust your calorie level accordingly.

Two basic types of cholesterol:

Low-density lipoprotein (or LDL) cholesterol is a bad type of cholesterol that is most likely to clog blood vessels, increasing your risk for heart disease. A diet high in saturated fat is a major dietary cause of raised LDL cholesterol.

High-density lipoprotein (or HDL) cholesterol is a good type of cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps clear the LDL cholesterol out of the blood and reduces your risk for heart disease. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables, with appropriate levels of omega-3/fish oil can help raise HDL cholesterol levels.

Eating too much saturated dietary fat (the kind found in high-fat meats and dairy products) and cholesterol can cause your body to make more cholesterol, raising your blood cholesterol levels. You can lower your cholesterol level by switching to a lower-fat diet thus reducing intake of animal fat and other fats and eating foods rich in starch and fiber, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

For more details on making wise food choices for the TLC Diet and to learn how to lower your cholesterol level, see the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Tip sheet and TLC Diet Daily Food Guide Food Groups at: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/chd1/Tipsheets/foodgroup.htm