When following a cholesterol-lowering diet, there are certain ingredients that you should limit your intake of – especially saturated fat. Foods high in saturated fat can not only cause weight gain, they can also raise your LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides, increasing your risk of heart disease if you regularly consume these foods over a long period of time.
The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that your saturated fat intake be less than 7% of your total food intake daily. That is, if you are following a 2,000-calorie diet, you should not consume more than 14 grams of saturated fat each day. The following foods contain high amounts of saturated fat, and eating these should be closely watched if you are trying to lower your cholesterol:
Animal meats, including meats derived from cows and pigs, are high in saturated fat. Although following a cholesterol-lowering diet does not ban you from eating animal meat entirely, it can add up if you consume these products at every meal. Preparations containing meats high in saturated fat include:
- Ground beef
Limiting these foods, as well as other animal meats, can help lower your intake of saturated fat. If you are including these foods in your diet, there are ways you further cut the saturated fat introduced into your diet during the preparation of these foods.
Additionally, substituting these meats with other proteins can also lower your saturated fat intake. For instance, poultry, such as chicken or turkey, contains less saturated fat in comparison to animal meat. If you want to cut saturated fat from your diet entirely, you can substitute your dishes containing meat with fish, beans, or soy products.
Dairy products derived from animals can also introduce additional saturated fat into your diet. These foods include:
- Sour cream
- Ice cream
Not only can consuming these products alone increase your saturated fat intake, you should also worry about the amounts of dairy that are not so obvious – such as being added your favorite foods or beverages – since they, too, can add up. To minimize the amount of saturated fat added to your diet from these products, you can select low-fat varieties of your favorite dairy foods, which will usually be labeled as being “low fat”, “skim” or “part skim” on their packaging.
Fats and Oils
Although various spreads and oils are not something you would consume alone, they are often included in a variety of foods during preparation. In fact, some of these fats, such as cream-based salad dressings and cooking oils, can take an otherwise healthy, low-fat dishes containing low-fat veggies or fish and turn them into a vehicle to introduce additional saturated fat into your diet. High saturated fat foods that are in this category include:
- Certain oils (such as palm or coconut oil)
- Cream-based dressings or dips
Changing up the way you prepare your foods can help you to reduce your saturated fat intake from sources such as this. Additionally, using phytosterol-based spreads, oils higher in unsaturated fats (such as olive oil or vegetable oil), or reduced-fat varieties of dressings or dips can also prevent introducing excess saturated fat into your diet.
If you are ever in doubt about whether or not your favorite foods contain saturated fat, you should check the nutrition label, which is usually located on the back of the package.
Rolfes SR, Whitney E. Understanding Nutrition, 13thed 2013
Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (PDF), July 2004, The National Institutes of Health: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute