Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are food sources that are low in cholesterol. Most fish and poultry are also somewhat low in cholesterol too. Make sure to incorporate low cholesterol foods in your diet to avoid risk for developing heart disease.
If you want to completely stay out of the risk for developing heart disease, stick with low cholesterol foods and foods low in fat. Truth be told, a low cholesterol diet is not all that hard to follow, considering the wide range of food options available. Below is a list of foods you should incorporate in your diet for optimal cardiovascular and overall health:
1. Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are essentially “cholesterol free” because cholesterols can only be produced from animal sources. Thus, increasing your fruit and vegetable intake will not only mean loading your body with important vitamins and minerals, but indulging in all health goodness without increasing cholesterol. Adding more vegetables and less meat to every meal is a great way to start.
2. Whole grains
Whole grains like cereals, oat meal, pasta, and whole wheat breads are rich in dietary fiber but high in energy content. These foods do not contain dietary cholesterol (except for breads which are added with dairy products and sugar) and can also be helpful in maintaining weight.
3. Fish and Poultry
Chicken, turkey and fish generally have lower cholesterol and saturated fat than pork and beef. Some types of shellfish are also considered to be low cholesterol sources. However, despite being low on cholesterol, a heart healthy diet should still limit the total amount of intake of these protein food sources to 5 ounces per day. It would also help to take in low cholesterol protein sources and meat substitutes such as tofu, beans and dry peas.
Egg yolks contain high amounts of cholesterol so make sure to eat only a maximum of four egg yolks a week (including those in baked and processed foods). Egg whites, on the other hand, contain no cholesterol. Try to substitute whole eggs with egg whites in your recipe.
5. Dairy Products
Regular dairy products like cheese, milk and yogurt contain fat. They are usually high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Despite these, they are still important for optimum health. To limit cholesterol intake in dairy products, make sure to choose skimmed or low fat milk (over full cream), low fat or non-fat yogurt, and low fat cheese and cheese blends.
6. Low Cholesterol Snacks
Not all snacks are generally high in cholesterol, so yes, you can still have a snack and be healthy. However, make sure to stick to snacks low in cholesterol. Dried fruits, bagels, pretzels, crackers, cereals, fresh fruits and raw vegetables are among snacks that are low in fat and cholesterol.
Should you crave for sweets, there are a few options to consider that are low in fat. Low cholesterol foods for dessert include gelatine-based desserts (without the whipped cream), low fat cookies, non-fat yogurt, puddings, and low fat cakes and pastries, among many others. However, try as much as you can to only have occasional treats. Eat them only rarely, especially if you need to work on improving cholesterol levels.
8. Omega-3 – The “Good Fats”
There are some “good fats” that are actually helpful to your heart health and blood flow and cardiovascular system. These are omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil. That is why I take a fish oil pill every day as part of my own heart-healthy diet plan, and recommend it to all of my friends. Omega-3 rich fish oil is a health food I can’t do without.