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Can I Have Cheese If I Have High Cholesterol?

Cholesterol Diet-Friendly Cheese Picks

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Updated December 13, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Cheese

Cheese isn't gone for good if you have high cholesterol.

Photo: Jeffrey Coolidge, Photodisc

Cheese, cholesterol -- not two things necessarily considered friends. Though you can't chomp cheese with abandon if you are looking to reign in your cholesterol, that doesn't mean it needs to be completely off limits.

Cheese can be high in saturated and total fat, cholesterol and calories -- all things that should be limited. Making it part of a lower-my-cholesterol diet means controlling portions and selecting certain picks over others.

Foods to Choose:

  • Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese (15 mg cholesterol per 1 oz)
  • Low-fat (1%) Cottage Cheese (9 mg per cup)
  • Low-fat Cheddar or Colby Cheese (6 mg per 1 oz)
  • Fat-Free Cream Cheese (1 mg per tbsp)

Foods to Limit:

  • Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese (125 mg in 1 cup)
  • Commercially Prepared Cheesecake (44 mg per slice)
  • Cheeses with 25 to 27 mg of cholesterol per ounce: Feta, Munster, American Processed Cheese*

*These cheeses can be enjoyed in moderation, for example one slice or ounce per sandwich. It is all too easy to increase your cholesterol (and saturated fat) intake for the day if you select several slices.

SANDWICH TIP: When it comes to sandwiches, ask yourself "Which vegetables and healthy flavorings can I add to take the place of extra cheese?" Sprouts, mushrooms, peppers, and tomatoes make excellent sandwich fillers. Spicy mustards, horseradish, and salsa can add flavor without cholesterol and fat.

ENTERTAINING TIP: Low or reduced-fat cheeses often have less cholesterol than their "regular" counterparts. Try a warm low-fat Brie cheese, accompanied by a selection of all-fruit preserves, fresh grapes, and whole-wheat crackers to improve the nutritional quality of an old party favorite.

BOTTOM LINE: Cheese is a good source of calcium and protein, and should not be excluded from the diet entirely. Selecting lower fat versions of cheeses and limiting your portions will allow you to "have your cheese, and eat it too."

Sources:

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Database for Standard Reference. Accessed 8/17/10.

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