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Tips to Lower High Cholesterol by Cutting Fat From Your Diet

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Updated December 15, 2012

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

When you’re told you have high cholesterol, one of the first things you’ll do is modify your diet. Besides eating healthier foods, a cholesterol-lowering diet also entails limiting the amount of fat you consume on a daily basis.

However, this can be difficult to do, especially if you’ve never had to watch what you eat. By following these tips, you can lower the amount of fat you consume, which may help to keep your cholesterol levels in check.

Cut Out the Obvious

If you’re trying to reduce the amount of fat in your diet, cut out the obvious foods first. Do you consume a lot of junk food, such as cookies, cakes, and potato chips? These are usually high in trans fats (also known as partially hydrogenated fats) and saturated fats -- both of which can raise your cholesterol levels.

Trimming the fat off your meats or putting spreads and dressings on the side (instead of slathering them over your food) can also help.

Do you eat out a lot? While most fast food establishments and restaurants now offer some healthier foods, they also serve foods that are high in saturated fat. By cutting out or limiting these foods from your diet, you can help to reduce your cholesterol levels.

Watch Your Food Labels

Food labels are an important guide to help you watch your fat intake, especially if you are not sure whether some of your favorite foods are high in fat. When reading food labels, you should make sure that the foods you select are low in saturated and trans fats.

However, not all fat is necessarily bad. In fact, unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) are “healthier” fats and are considered heart-friendly, since they have a favorable or neutral effect on cholesterol.

Opt for Low Fat Alternatives

Many foods on the market have low-fat alternatives available. This includes everything from diary and meats to commercially prepared foods, such as chips, cookies, crackers, and spreads.

While these foods may have a lower fat content, they may also contain a higher carbohydrate component than other foods. Therefore, you should also check out the carbohydrate content in these foods. Consuming too many carbohydrates may cause your triglyceride levels to increase.

Substitute with Healthier Foods

Implementing healthier, low-fat selections in your diet will help you lower your cholesterol and prevent heart disease in the future. For example, you can select a handful of almonds instead of potato chips from the vending machine for your mid-morning snack.

Sources:

Rolfes SR, Whitney E. Understanding Nutrition, 11th ed, 2008.

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