Looking to Improve Your Cholesterol? Pick Foods From This Low Cholesterol Foods List!

by Cindy

Low Cholesterol Foods List For Diabetics

If you have diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol you can benefit significantly from starting a heart healthy diet that is rich in low cholesterol foods.

What is Cholesterol?

Patients with diabetes often have high cholesterol levels.  Cholesterol is a type of fat that is needed by your body to keep many normal functions operating properly.  Cholesterols travels through the body with the help of lipoproteins. 

  • Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL):  Low denisty lipoproteins (LDL) are known as “bad cholesterol” because these molecules carry cholesterol in the blood stream and deposit it onto the walls of blood vessels. 
  • High Density Lipoprotein (HDL): High denisty lipoproteins (HDL) are known as “good cholesterol” because these molecules carry cholesterol away from the blood vessels and to the liver where it is processed and removed from the body.
  • Triglycerides: Triglycerides are an excellent energy source for the body but they can be very harmful too.  In fact, diets that are high in triglycerides have been linked to high blood sugar levels and diabetes.  Triglycerides are compromised of fatty acids which can be saturated or unsaturated fats. Current research has demonstrated that diets that are high in saturated fats are linked to high cholesterol and heart disease. 

Cholesterol is produced by your body but it is also found in food from animal sources, such as meats, cheeses and milk. Although it is fine to eat foods containing cholesterol, too many of these foods can lead to high cholesterol levels, clogged arteries, stroke and heart disease. Research has shown that even small reductions in cholesterol can decrease your risk of having a heart attack significantly! Check out this list of low cholesterol foods to see how you can start to improve your diet and your cholesterol today!

Heart Attack in a bun.
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What Are Low Cholesterol Foods?

The average American diet typically contains between 200 and 300 mg of cholesterol every day.  It is recommended that the daily intake of cholesterol be limited to less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day in people without heart disease or high cholesterol.  For patients with abnormal cholesterol levels, characterized as an LDL level greater than 100 mg/dl, the daily cholesterol intake should be kept below 200 mg per day. To keep your high cholesterol levels in check, try substituting high cholesterol foods with these healthier alternatives! 

Proteins: Construct your meals with heart healthy proteins as the backbone of your meal!  Proteins that are low in cholesterol include:

  • Chicken (without skin)
  • Turkey (without skin)
  • Fish
  • Egg Whites
  • Beans
  • Tofu
  • Lean cuts of meat
  • AVOID: Bacon, bologna, hot dogs, organ meats, shrimp and too many egg yolks!onigiri bear bento
    Creative Commons License photo credit: gamene


Dairy: Every diet should contain some dairy products to obtain bone building calcium.  Dairy products that are low in cholesterol include:

  • Skim or 1% milk
  • Fat-free or low fat dairy products
  • Low fat yogurt
  • Cheese (check the label for cheeses with less than 3 grams of fat per ounce)
  • AVOID: Whole milk, full fat products, cream cheese, American cheese, Swiss cheese and cheddar cheese

Oils: Fats and oils are a major energy source for the body and should not be completely omitted from the diet.  Be sure to choose heart healthy fats and oils such as:

  • Olive Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • AVOID: Lard, butter, coconut oil, shortening

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the major source of energy for the body.  Choose carbohydrates that keep blood sugar levels stable and are low in cholesterol such as the following:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Whole grain rice
  • Baked potatoes, plain
  • AVOID: Pastries, Doughnuts, Egg noodles and too many muffins

Fruits: Fruits do not contain cholesterol but can raise blood sugar and your a1c blood test readings if you eat too many!

  • All fruits fresh, frozen and dried
  • AVOID: Fruits that are prepared with butter or lard in the form of pies, pastries, muffins, etc…

Vegetables: Vegetables are excellent low cholesterol foods but be careful how you prepare them!

  • All vegetables fresh or frozen
  • AVOID: Vegetables that are packaged or prepared in cream sauces or with butterMmmmm Harvest... - Fort Collins, Colorado
    Creative Commons License photo credit: gregor_y

Snacks: Try some of these low cholesterol snack items:

  • Low fat frozen yogurt
  • Popcorn, plain
  • Pretzels
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables (avoid dips)
  • Sorbet
  • AVOID: Chocolate, buttered popcorn, ice cream, chips and too many pies and cookies.

Always check your food labels and avoid high cholesterol foods that contain saturated fats and trans fats. These types of fat have been associated with heart disease and it is recommended that patients with heart problems, diabetes or high cholesterol avoid these foods. Many fast foods, snacks and prepared baked goods will contain these types of fats. To include healthier fats in your diabetic snacks, look for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in the ingredients list of foods that you purchase.

Are There Really Cholesterol Lowering Foods?

Improving your cholesterol starts with substituting items that are high in bad fats for heart healthy choices.  In addition, choosing foods that have been clinically proven to reduce cholesterol levels and raise HDL, will improve your overall health and your lab results! 

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These compounds have been clinically proven to decrease triglycerides and blood pressure levels.  Fatty fish, such as herring, salmon, trout and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids.  Flax seed oil, walnuts, olive oil and canola oil are other excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.  The American Heart Association recommends that people try to include at least two servings of foods containing omega-3 fatty acids in their diets each week.  Supplements are available for those who do not consume the recommended amounts.
  • Monosaturated Fats:  These heart healthy fats are known to boost HDL and reduce total cholesterol.  Cook with olive, peanut and canola oils whenever possible.
  • Plant Sterols and Plant Stanols:  These compounds are also known to improve abnormal cholesterol levels.  Fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds contain these substances in small amounts.  Certain margarines have been marketed as containing plant stanols and sterols in higher levels to block absorption of cholesterol from food and improve blood LDL levels.  Scientific research supports the use of plant sterols as part of a dietary portfolio of foods to lower cholesterol.  Try adding these substances to your diet for a possible 10% reduction in LDL and total cholesterol!

To reduce high cholesterol levels naturally, start with substituting some of these foods from this low cholesterol foods list into your diabetic diets.  In time you will see an improvement in your cholesterol readings!  Some of these foods, such as fish can even help reduce cholesterol naturally through the help of omega-3 fatty acids. Remember to set a realistic weight loss goal and to reduce your sugar and cholesterol intake to find an overall improvement in your health.

sushi rolls
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