Some people want to eat a more heart-healthy diet, but aren't sure which foods to choose. The key is not to eliminate entire food groups, but to select healthy options. Your doctor may recommend a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet to help reduce and control the amount of fat in your blood, especially if you have or are at risk of heart disease. Having a list of foundation foods is a good way to get started in meeting your dietary goals.
Unless you choose carefully, meat can contribute a significant amount of fat and cholesterol to your diet. When shopping, select lean beef, lamb or pork and trim any visible fat before cooking. Lean options are loin, round, flank, shank cross-cuts and 98 percent fat-free ground beef. Limit your intake of meat to 6 ounces or less per day, recommends the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Tofu and other soy foods are naturally low in fat and cholesterol and make good substitutes.
Dairy is one of the top sources of saturated fat in your diet, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. To follow a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, it's necessary to choose healthier options. Low-fat yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese and 1 percent milk are acceptable options. Most cheeses are high in fat. If you choose cheese, select low-fat options such as ricotta and mozzarella made from 2 percent milk. Limit dairy desserts per your health care provider's instructions.
Chicken and eggs are other major contributors of fat and cholesterol. One egg contains 212 milligrams of cholesterol and 5 grams of fat, for example. When you have eggs, choose egg whites. If you have yolks, limit them to three or four per week. Skinless breast chicken is very lean and the best option when choosing this meat. Add fish to the list, which is naturally low in saturated fat and contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Certain seafood like shrimp and squid is high in cholesterol. Until your cholesterol is under control, your doctor may recommend limiting your serving size.
Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and cholesterol, so make them a staple in your diet. Have three to five servings of vegetables and two to four servings of fruit daily. Incorporate whole-grain foods like whole wheat, brown rice, barley, amaranth, whole oats, quinoa and wild rice because they're naturally low-fat. Limit fats and oils to 6 teaspoons per day or less and choose unsaturated oils like olive, soybean and canola. Limit seeds and nuts to 2 tablespoons per day and choose low-fat or fat-free salad dressings.
- University of Massachusetts Medical School: Low-Fat/Low Cholesterol Diet
- National Cancer Institute: Table 1. Top Food Sources of Saturated Fat among US Population, 2005–2006 NHANES
- UCSF Medical Center: Guidelines for a Low Cholesterol, Low Saturated Fat Diet
- UCSF Medical Center: Cholesterol Content of Foods