According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 38 percent of American adults have high cholesterol. Too much cholesterol contributes to a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases (CVD), such as heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death in the United States.
Your body naturally makes all the cholesterol it needs and uses it to keep you healthy. In addition to what your body makes, the foods you eat also impact your cholesterol levels. Eating lots of foods high in saturated fat and trans-fat contribute to high cholesterol; however, you can improve your cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight by eating heart-healthy foods. Below are a few dietary steps you can take to manage and improve your cholesterol.
- Limit foods high in saturated fat. Saturated fats come from animal products (such as cheese, fatty meats, and dairy desserts) and tropical oils (such as palm oil). Foods that are higher in saturated fat may be high in cholesterol.
- Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium (salt), and added sugars. These foods include lean meats; seafood, low-fat or fat-free or dairy products, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. MyPlate is the current nutrition guide based on the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It provides guidance on how to create nutritious, balanced meals.
- Eat foods naturally high in fiber, such as oatmeal and beans (black, pinto, kidney, lima, and others) and unsaturated fats, which can be found in avocado, vegetable oils like olive oil, and nuts. These foods may help prevent and manage high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol levels.
To learn more, visit the CDC’s Preventing and Managing High Cholesterol website. Consult with your health care professional to establish a cholesterol management plan that works best for you. For additional support, encourage your whole family to join you in your heart-healthy lifestyle.