Eating a balanced diet that reflects Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide is a great place to start achieving healthier cholesterol levels.
The foods you eat can contribute to unhealthy cholesterol and you can make simple changes that can lead to improvements.
Focus on limiting foods that are high in unhealthy (“saturated” and “trans”) fats, which have a significant impact on your blood cholesterol.
Consider the following list of cholesterol-friendly nutritional tips:
- Cook your food using low-fat methods such as steaming, broiling or baking, as opposed to frying.
Eat more high-fibre foods (e.g., lentils, dried beans, brown rice, fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals). High-fibre foods can help you feel full and can also help control cholesterol.
Enjoy plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Increase your intake of sources of omega-3 fats, such as flaxseed and fish. Certain fish are known for omega-3 properties: salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, herring and Arctic char.
- Choose small portions of lean, well-trimmed cuts of meat (a serving is about 75 grams or 2½ oz cooked).
- Use sources of unsaturated fat for regular meals, such as non-hydrogenated margarine, oils (e.g., soy, sesame, olive and sunflower) or light mayonnaise.
- Eat meat alternatives such as beans, nuts or tofu more often.
- Plant sterols: these work to remove cholesterol by blocking its absorption in the bloodstream. Plant sterols are found naturally in nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, grains and vegetable oils. Some foods are also fortified with plant sterols.
In addition to choosing healthier foods, there are some foods you’ll want to limit or avoid entirely:
- Limit baked goods, snack foods and fast foods, all of which are heavily processed and are often high in salt, sugars and trans fats.
- Minimize your consumption of sauces and gravies, which are often high in salt and fat (you can try healthier options for seasoning such as spices or lemon juice).
- Limit your consumption of organ meats such as liver or kidney, both of which are high in cholesterol.
- Reduce your intake of foods that increase LDL cholesterol, such as lard, butter, full-fat dairy products, and oils such as coconut and palm.