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Low Cholesterol Diet

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Low Cholesterol Diets

By Valerie Mellema

Low cholesterol diets are designed to improve heart health and reduce heart disease. Several studies have shown that a good low cholesterol diet will help you cut your bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) by as much as 10-20 percent. This can be done by simply changing the way you eat. The basic concept behind this diet is to eat a diet that is rich in vegetable oils and fish and low in saturated fats and trans fats.

Knowing which foods help to keep your cholesterol low is the first step in a low cholesterol diet.

There are several different changes you will want to make in your diet and these eight may be the most important.

1. Stock up on foods that are good in a low cholesterol diet such as whole grains, vegetables, fresh fruit, dry beans and vegetable juice.

2. Use olive oil, canola oil or plant sterol spreads instead of butter, polyunsaturated oil and trans fat margarines.

3. Look for foods that advertise they are good for cholesterol. There are several brands that fortify their foods with plant sterols, such as Minute Maid, Take Control, Smart Balance and Promise.

4. Eat oatmeal each day as this is considered a "superfood" for lowering cholesterol.

5. Use a cholesterol-free egg substitute. Egg yolks are very high in cholesterol, containing about 213 mg. Limit yourself to two egg yolks a week, including those used in baked goods.

6. Switch out cream sauces in foods like fettuccine alfredo for stir-fried vegetables.

7. Instead of using butter when cooking, use white wine vinegar. It doesn't make foods taste like vinegar and it doesn't add fat to the meal. Olive oil is also better to use when cooking as well.

8. Don't add a lot of condiments such as butter and sour cream to foods to give them flavor. Instead, use spices. Herbs such as basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, cilantro and rosemary can really live up your meals.

In addition to making these eight dietary changes, you also need to look at other aspects of your diet. When selecting meats choose only those that are lean like fish, chicken, and lean beef. There are also meat substitutes available as well such as dry peas, beans and tofu. These are low in saturated fat as well as cholesterol. They can also add a lot of fiber to your diet, which is also beneficial in lowering cholesterol.

When purchasing dairy, choose those that are low fat. Fat free and 1% milk have the highest amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol. They also contain just as much calcium and nutrients as whole milk, without the additional fat and cholesterol. It is easiest to change your milk drinking habits a step at a time. If you drink whole milk now, step down to 2%, then 1% and then skim milk. Always choose cheese that is reduced fat, low fat or fat free.

By making these changes to your diet, you are able to have a dramatic effect on the additional cholesterol you are taking in. You don't have to drastically eliminate the foods you eat; you just have to choose smarter versions of those foods.