Eating for Lower Cholesterol

Eating is one of the things that can affect your cholesterol level a great deal. If you have too high cholesterol, the foods you eat can be one of the things you can control to most effectively and quickly lower your cholesterol.

In fact, if you have elevated levels of high cholesterol, a healthy low cholesterol diet is the one thing that you must absolutely do in order to ensure heart health. Low cholesterol foods and recipes are easy to find and prepare, so get ready to learn all about them.

When elevated cholesterol is first discovered in a person without heart disease, doctors often start patients on the Step I diet recommended by the American Heart Association and NCEP.

On this program, patients should eat: 8 to 10 percent of the day’s total calories from saturated fat, 30 percent or less of total calories from fat, less than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a day, and just enough calories to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

A doctor or a registered dietitian can suggest a reasonable calorie level. Food labels also are very helpful in determining how much saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories are in various foods.

If the Step I diet doesn’t result in desirable cholesterol levels, doctors may try the Step II diet, which changes the daily saturated fat limits to below 7 percent of daily calories and dietary cholesterol to below 200 milligrams. Step II also is the diet for people with heart disease.

In many patients, blood cholesterol levels should begin to drop a few weeks after starting on a cholesterol-lowering diet. Just how much of a drop depends on factors such as how high the cholesterol level is and how each person’s body responds to changes made. With time, cholesterol levels may be reduced 10 to 50 milligrams per deciliter or more, a clinically significant amount.