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Diet to Reduce High Cholesterol

How to Begin a Diet to Reduce High Cholesterol

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Updated January 25, 2011

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

First Steps: Foods to Eat and Avoid -Diet to Reduce High Cholesterol

A plate full of hamburger buns and burger toppings rest on a tray.

Image by Tim Klein

Would you like to begin a diet to reduce high cholesterol, but are overwhelmed with how to start? The thought of changing lifelong eating habits can be daunting at first, but following these easy steps will make it much easier for you. You will soon see that adopting a diet to reduce high cholesterol can be easy and enjoyable.

1. Prepare Your Kitchen

Start by throwing out or donating high saturated fat, high cholesterol, or "junk foods." These foods can increase your low density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad cholesterol" and are not recommended on your new diet. Remember, if these foods aren't available, you can't eat them!

Consider limiting these foods to special occasions only, if you eat them at all. If you must keep these foods in the house for other family members, place them behind healthy foods in your cabinet or refrigerator. That way if you become tempted to reach for unhealthy foods, you will see cholesterol-friendly foods first.

Ready Your Kitchen for Your Heart Healthy Diet

2. Get to Know Your Grocery Store

Next, select cholesterol-friendly foods by "shopping the perimeter." Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products are found in the outside aisles of the grocery store, while packaged and processed foods are stored in the interior aisles.

Purchase two fresh fruits or vegetables that you have not tried before or have not had in a while. Fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apples, berries, bananas, carrots, broccoli, are an important source of soluble fiber, which can lower your LDL and total cholesterol levels.

For packaged foods, start looking at snacks and meals with health claims of "high-fiber" or "whole-grain" and begin to look at the Nutrition Facts Label listed on the product. Don't feel that you have to completely understand the information listed on the nutrition label right away; just get in the habit of looking at it for now.

3. Research Restaurants

Go online and look at the menus of restaurants you visit often, as well as new restaurants that you have not tried before. Look for heart-healthy or vegetarian icons next to foods, and consider trying some of these dishes the next time you dine out. Get in the habit of researching a restaurant's menu before you dine, and plan what you will order ahead of time to make your meal more cholesterol-friendly.

Low-Cholesterol Ethnic Dining

4. Try Healthier Cooking Techniques

Begin preparing your foods by using baking, steaming, boiling, broiling, grilling or microwaving techniques. Avoid frying foods.

Read more Low-Cholesterol Cooking Techniques

5. Read All About It

Read everything you can online and in print on dieting to reduce cholesterol. You can start right here on About.com Cholesterol.

Use the new information you have learned to decide which changes you will make. It may be helpful to write out both short and long-term goals for improving your diet and place them on your refrigerator door. Be realistic about the changes you will be willing and able to make. Consider your motivation level, daily schedule, and lifestyle when listing your goals.

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  5. Reduce High Cholesterol - How to Reduce High Cholesterol Level With Foods

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