What to Eat to Lower Your Cholesterol

Ok, if you’re reading this, then chances are you or someone you love has been advised to change their diet to help lower their cholesterol.  You can click here to read my blog that explains more about cholesterol?  (link to blog on Why You Should Care about Cholesterol)

Know your numbers

Ideal results

Total Cholesterol < 200

HDL Cholesterol > 40 for men

Triglycerides < 150

> 50 for women

> 60 is associated with a lower risk of heart disease

LDL < 100

< 70 for people with heart disease

Triglycerides < 150

If Total Cholesterol And LDL Are Elevated and Triglycerides are normal

When this happens, it’s an indication that a person needs fewer of the fats that come from animal protein. In this case, a person should reduce these foods

  • Butter
  • Egg Yolks
  • Red Meat
  • Pork 
  • The skin from chicken or turkey
  • Fatty luncheon meats such as salami

By substituting fish, lean chicken or turkey and having vegetarian meals, the total amount of cholesterol in the diet will be reduced. Having more vegetables and salads will help a person feel less hungry.

It’s also important to eat healthy protective foods, such as olive oil, oatmeal and small amounts of almonds. Even a little red wine a few times a week can help lower cholesterol. 

If Triglycerides and Cholesterol are Elevated

When this happens, it’s an indication that the carbohydrates you’re eating are rapidly being converted into excess triglycerides and cholesterol.  This can also indicate that the person has insulin resistance or is more at risk for diabetes. 

With high Triglycerides, the key is to lower your intake of carbohydrates (What is a Carbohydrate?) Try to keep your intake of carbs under 120 grams/day. 

That may sound like a lot, but you’ll be surprised at how many carbs are in a lot of the healthy foods you’re eating.

Read the labels

1 slice of bread may have as many as 20 – 30 grams of carbohydrate. That means that a sandwich can have 40-60 grams of carbs! 

The mocha frappuccino at your favorite coffee shop has 65 grams of carbs in it. Really! Even yogurt has carbs, so read the labels. If it has fruit or is flavored, chances are there are 30 or more grams of carbs in it.  And if you like a little soda in the afternoon as a pick me up, a can of cola has 39 grams of carbs, while a glass of orange juice has 29 grams

So by making small changes, like eliminating sugary drinks and juices, people can reduce their carb intakes dramatically.

Many people find it easy to reduce their carbs by half. That means use 1 teaspoon of sugar in your coffee, not 2. When you are serving up pasta or rice, serve yourself about half as much as you normally do.  You want to load your plate with lots of vegetables and salads.

What about hunger?

You might be worried that you’ll be too hungry to do this.  Here’s the trick:  Eat more protein and increase your healthy fats from avocado, nuts or seeds. You’ll feel much fuller when you have more protein. 


Yes, salads, but avoid the croutons, the tortilla strips and corn that are sometimes on a salad, this drives up the carbohydrates. 

This is a very basic overview of what to eat when cholesterol levels are high. For more information check out the American Heart Association’s diet guidelines.