The Low Cholesterol Healthy Heart Diet

The Healthy Heart Diet proposes gradual and natural weight loss with the focus on reducing the risk of heart disease or stroke by promoting gradual weight loss

The Low Cholesterol Healthy Heart Diet …

Unlike the so-called healthy weight loss plans that are inclined towards slimness with no regard to nutritional needs, the healthy heart diet is based on sound medical principles.

The healthy heart diet proposes gradual and natural weight loss with focus on reducing the risk of heart disease or stroke by promoting weight loss.

It aims at managing cholesterol levels through dietary modifications and a move towards a more active lifestyle.

Young Girl with Heart - Healthy Heart DietThe diet is primarily meant for those who have, unfortunately, experienced cardiac problems, but doctors recommend that the diet should also be adopted by those at a higher risk of heart disease (due to hereditary or genetic reasons).

The target of the diet is to lose weight since obesity increases the risk of a heart disease to a large extent. It also aims at maintaining healthy levels of HDL and LDL.

Why follow a low cholesterol diet?

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that can build up in arteries increasing chances for developing heart disease or stroke.

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  • LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol builds up in the arteries
  • HDL ‘good’ cholesterol takes cholesterol out of the blood
  • Triglycerides are a form of fat that raises risk for heart disease

Important points to keep in mind with your heathy heart diet.

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  • Manage your weight.  Decrease weight by 10 lbs and improve LDL by 5-8%.
  • Limit foods high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat (see back) and decrease LDL by 11-15%.
  • Increase food high in dietary fiber, soluble fiber, and plant stanols and sterols and decrease LDL by 8-20%.
  • Increase physical activity. Aim for 30 minutes on most days of the week.  Start with even five minutes a day.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Add 2 grams of plant stanol and sterols per day which can decrease LDL cholesterol by 5-15%.  These are found in enriched margarine, juice and yoghurt.  Beware of adding extra calories.  Examples:  Benecol® and Take Control® margarine substitutes.
  • Be sure to get 10-25 grams of soluble fiber per day which can decrease LDL cholesterol by 5% or more.  Sources are cooked cereals, fruits, and vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts and carrots.
Food Categories:Recommended:Foods to Avoid:
6-8 oz with 3 oz as whole grains (1 oz = 1 slice bread, 1 cup cereal, ½ cup rice, ½ cup pasta)
Use whole grain breads and low fat rolls; crackers such as animal, graham or saltine with unsalted tops; whole grains like low-fat popcorn, Triscuits®, and Wheat Thins®; whole wheat pasta and brown rice. All great additions to a healthy heart diet.Avoid: Butter rolls; commercial doughnuts, muffins, biscuits, waffles, pancakes, and store-bought mixes.
2 ½ – 3 cups
All vegetables (frozen or fresh are lower in sodium)Avoid: Fried vegetables; cream, butter, cheese sauce
1 ½ – 2 cups
All fruits except coconut and avocado (look for those canned in light syrup, juice or water; or choose fresh or frozen)Avoid: Coconut or avocado; fruit in cream or custard


5-6 ounces

All lean, well-trimmed beef, veal, por, and lamb; all chicken and turkey without skin; wild game; low-fat cheeses, low-fat cottage cheese; 2 egg yolks per week; 1 ½ oz nuts per dayAvoid: Prime and other heavily marbled and fatty meats; frankfurters, sausage, bacon, high-fat luncheon meats, fried chicken or fish; whole-milk type cheeses, processed cheese.

MILK – 3 cups

Skimmed or 1% Light, low-fat yogurtAvoid: Whole milk, Yogurt, buttermilk and malted milk in your healthy heart diet.
SOUPSLow-fat broth soups; homemade cream soups with skim milkAvoid: Cream soups; convenience entrees unless low-fat
DESSERTS & SWEETSSherbert, gelatins, angel food cake, meringues, low-fat homemade desserts with recommended oil; jam, jelly, honey, syrup, sugar candies (beware of high sugar foods)Avoid: Commercially prepared cakes, pies, cookies, frostings, and puddings; ice cream; chocolate
FATS & OILS5-7 teaspoons (include that hidden in food)Canola oil, olive and soybean oils are also acceptable.Use a soft tub margarine.Avoid: Solid fats and shortenings, butter, lard, bacon drippings; gravy with meat fat; hydrogenated vegetable oil; coconut oil; palm oil or palm kernel oil.
BEVERAGESCoffee, tea, regular or diet beverages, mineral water; alcohol in moderation.Avoid: Beverages containing fats, salts, egg yolks, specialty coffees.
CONDIMENTSHerbs and spices, cocoa, substitute sweetenerAvoid: Carob powder made with hydrogenated fats; tartar sauce; cream

You Can Also Try These Extras in Your Healthy Heart Diet…

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  • Omega 3 fatty acids may improve heart health. Sources include fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), walnuts, soybean and canola oil and flaxseed. Try to include one serving every day.
  • Tea, dark chocolate, purple grape juice, tomato products, and soy products have shown to be beneficial to heart health.
  • Learn to read a food label. Pay close attention to saturated fat and dietary fiber.
  • Choose healthy snacks such as fruits, popcorn, cereal, vegetables, whole-grain crackers, and low fat frozen yogurt.
  • Use healthy cooking techniques in your healthy heart diet. Bake, broil, microwave, roast, steam, poach, lightly stir fry with cooking spray instead of frying.
  • Cook with low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk or cream.
  • Use a cooking oil spray instead of margarine or butter.
  • Use egg whites or egg substitute instead of whole eggs.
  • Use low-fat dressings and mayonnaise.

Use Good Heart Food Every Day … If eating out choose recommended food items to compliment your healthy heart diet. Eat small portions and try to fill up on healthy vegetables.

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