Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in the body that, if uncontrolled, can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. Your liver makes approximately 75 percent of the cholesterol contained in your body. Because of this, the diet does not need to contain much, if any, additional cholesterol for the body to function properly. Cholesterol can only be found in animal products or foods which contain animal products. It is important to consume a diet low in cholesterol to help promote heart health and overall well-being.
Meats and Beans
While cholesterol is primarily found in animal products, such as meats, it is important to consume meats to help meet your daily nutrition needs. Consume lean meats such as chicken
breast, without the skin and fish. When consuming beef, choose lean cuts, such as sirloin or top or bottom round, and remove all visible fat prior to eating. Other low cholesterol protein sources include egg whites, beans, soy and tofu.
When consuming dairy products, it is important to choose skim, low-fat or reduced-fat varieties to help decrease your cholesterol intake. Low cholesterol dairy products include skim milk, low-fat yogurt, reduced fat cheeses, fat-free ice cream and sherbet.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are all naturally cholesterol-free. They can be consumed in any amount without raising your cholesterol levels. Fruits and vegetables are also a rich source of fiber, which has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels and decrease your overall risk for heart disease.
Fats and Oils
Fat is often used to help add flavor and moisture to foods as well as prevent food from sticking to cooking surfaces. When choosing fats and oils, opt for vegetable based oils such as olive, canola, corn, peanut, sesame and safflower. Each can add a unique flavor to meals without adding unwanted cholesterol. Also, try using fat-free butter sprays, fat-free mayonnaise and fat-free salad dressings to help decrease cholesterol intake.
Like fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods can be a good source of fiber. Depending on how they are made, they can also be high in cholesterol. When choosing grains, such as crackers, breads, cereals and snacks, look for foods made without cheeses, coconut oil, shortening, lard and eggs. Low cholesterol grains include whole grain breads, rice, pasta, oatmeal, barley, whole grain cereals and wheat crackers.