How To Reduce Cholesterol Through Diet – The Latest Recommendations

Finding out you have high cholesterol levels after a routine visit to the doctor can be a scary thing.  High cholesterol leads to an increased risk of heart disease and is often a cause of heart attacks.  The good news is that there is now a lot of information regarding methods to lower your numbers.  When first diagnosed with high levels of cholesterol your doctor will likely provide advice on how to reduce cholesterol through diet.  Unless your levels are at an alarmingly high level this is the first step that most people start with.

The diet that you will need to follow is referred to as the “prudent diet”.  This diet is recommended for anyone that has the risks of a heart attack, including high cholesterol.  A prudent diet includes a diet low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, while high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

How To Reduce Cholesterol Through Diet - The Latest Recommendations

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The American Heart Association has created dietary guidelines for people with high levels of cholesterol.  These guidelines help people figure out how much cholesterol per day can be consumed.  These have been referred to as the Step I and Step II diet.

The Step I diet is for those with moderately high cholesterol levels – between 200-239 mg/dL.

Step I Diet – 200-239 mg/dL

  • Total fat to not exceed 30% of total calories.
  • 10% or less of daily calories should come from saturated fats.
  • Cholesterol limited to 300mg/day or less.

The Step II diet is meant for those with high levels of cholesterol – 240 mg/dL or higher.  This diet calls for lower levels of cholesterol and saturated fats.

Step II Diet – 240+ mg/dL

  • Total fat to not exceed 30% of total calories.
  • 7% or less of daily calories should come from saturated fats.
  • Cholesterol limited to 200mg/day or less.

While the Step I and Step II diets are good recommendations and the Step I diet is still recommended for people with moderately high cholesterol, the American Heart Association is now recommended a new diet referred to as the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet for those with dangerously high levels or at higher risk of heart disease.  These higher risks include high levels of bad cholesterol (LDLs), coronary artery disease, a previous heart attack, or Type 1 diabetes.

What is different with the TLC diet?  The recommendations found in the Step II diet are similar to what is found in the TLC diet, but the TLC diet includes more specific recommendations.

Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) Diet – 240+ mg/dL

  • Total fat between 25-35% of calories consumed
  • 7% or less of daily calories should come from saturated fats.
  • 10% or less of daily calories should come from polyunsaturated fats.
  • 20% or less of daily calories should come from monounsaturated fats.
  • 50-60% of daily calories from carbohydrates.
  • 15% of daily calories from protein.

As can be seen with these new recommendations, you will need to become more familiar with the specific kinds of fats that you consume – saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats.

Now, you are probably wondering what some quick tips on the best foods to reduce cholesterol are.  The following is a list of some of the most recommended foods:

  • Oatmeal
  • Apples
  • Pomegranate
  • Brown Rice
  • Legumes (beans)
  • Avocados
  • Chocolate (plain dark chocolate)
  • Grapes
  • Nuts
  • Margarine containing sterols or stanols

The list above makes it clear that a diet to lower cholesterol does not have to be boring and monotonous.  Add in some spices and more variety and you can have a tasteful but healthy diet.

As new studies are being analyzed more and more foods are added to this list.  For instance, blueberries health benefits may now include lowering cholesterol levels.  Also, while eggs and cholesterol have had a negative relationship in the past, new studies are indicating that eating some eggs is just fine.

Learning how to reduce cholesterol through diet does not have to be difficult or boring.  The information contained here is a good starting point and with some creativity you can create a diet that not only can help lower cholesterol but can be tasty and fun.