What are low cholesterol foods?

Written by dee parrott
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According to the American Heart Association, cholesterol is naturally found in animal-based products, and saturated and trans fats help your body make cholesterol. While it is important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet--balanced meaning foods from every food group, including fats--the key is being mindful of what you eat. Including low cholesterol foods in your diet can help you do just that.

Lean Meat

Meat has a stigma in the low-cholesterol world, but some meats are healthy--and there are a few that are healthier than others. Lean meats such as poultry are lower in cholesterol than red meat. Some lean beef cuts, such as sirloin or tenderloin, are low in cholesterol as well. With meat, there are low-cholesterol options, such as lean or extra lean minced meat. Remember, it is important to incorporate lean meats into any diet for protein, and the American Heart Association recommends that you bake, not pan fry, them for an even healthier option.

Low-Fat Dairy

Like meat, dairy also has a lower cholesterol option. Instead of drinking whole or 1 per cent milk, buy skim. Skimmed milk has less cholesterol and fewer calories. Cheeses come in low-fat varieties, which means lower cholesterol. As the American Heart Association recommends, low-fat dairy is a good choice for use in recipes. Low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese is good for homemade pizzas--baked on a whole wheat crust loaded with veggies and lean meat, of course--and skimmed milk can be used to make pudding.

Vegetable-Based Oils

Vegetable-based oils can be incorporated into a low-cholesterol diet in place of saturated fats like butter. Try using oils like canola, soybean or olive, which have no cholesterol. These oils can be used to cook vegetables, meats and poultry and to bake with. According to the Revolution Health Food Guide, these oils are also better for you than nut-based and flax oils, which can turn into trans fats when cooked. If you buy margarine, try to buy the softest kind you can find. Low-fat or light mayonnaise is also lower in cholesterol and can be used in place of the full-fat variety.


Nuts like almonds and walnuts and seeds like flax and pumpkin are sensible no-cholesterol snacks that are packed with good things like protein. However, nuts are high in fat--and although it's the good kind of fat, you still should limit your intake. Natural varieties of peanut butter have no cholesterol and are great to spread on whole wheat bread with jelly. Beware of peanut butter that is high in hydrogenated oils, which is another way of saying "high in cholesterol."


According to the American Heart Association, eating seafood weekly is OK to maintain a low cholesterol diet because it's low in saturated fat. Baked, broiled or grilled fish is a lower cholesterol option as opposed to fried. However, some seafood has higher amounts of cholesterol than others, such as shrimp, so it is always good to be mindful of your intake. The Revolution Health Food Guide notes that oily fish, such as salmon, and white fish, such as tilapia, are low in cholesterol. Don't smother fish in creamy sauces, which are full of cholesterol and fat. Instead, the Revolution Health Food Guide suggests lightly seasoning baked or broiled fish with lemon.

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