Diabetes and Lipid Clinic of Alaska



Nutrition Guidelines for Elevated Cholesterol Levels

The following are basic guidelines to assist with decreasing Total Cholesterol and LDL Cholesterol levels:

  • Weight management guidelines are important. Consider with tracking your carb and calorie intake first. Discuss with your dietitian or physician if weight loss would be beneficial and what your specific energy needs are.

  • Limit or minimize your intake of saturated and trans-fats (aka the “bad” fats), and cholesterol:
    • Saturated fat sources: this should be <7% of your total calorie intake daily (~10-12g total daily for most adults) and sources include bacon, sour cream, butter, gravies, cream cheese, lard, many other processed foods
    • Transfat sources: this type of fat needs to be eliminated from the diet completely; look at the ingredients list for “hydrogenated oil” and try to avoid these processed foods
    • Cholesterol sources: Many processed foods; eggs are have cholesterol, however eggs are rarely the true culprit of elevated cholesterol levels, as saturated fat intake is usually more influential
  • Replace the bad fats (Saturated and Trans-Fats) with the “good” fats (Mono- and Polyunsaturated fats):
    • Various sources of Mono- and Poly- Unsaturated Fats: Canola, sunflower, or olive oils; Olives, Walnuts, almonds, pecans, and even peanuts; avocados. But remember to note the portion sizes even with these “healthy fats” – they will still
      contribute to overall calorie intake!
  • Aim for a minimum of 25-40g fiber daily. If you are not accustomed to eating fiber-rich foods, begin adding +1-2 g of Fiber to each of your meals, gradually. Aim for 5-8 gram of fiber per meal and 3+ grams of fiber per snack as a minimum.
    • Also, work towards including fiber from food sources… nature often provides beneficial balance of soluble and non soluble fibers… the regularity and the consistency of your movements are important.
    • Regular intake of specifically “soluble” fiber helps to decrease cholesterol levels: generally 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber daily is recommended. Sources for this specific type of fiber include whole oats and barley or other sources of psyllium seed husk.
  • Other “functional foods” to include in meal plan:
    • Omega 3 Fats
      •  Sources include various fish (such as salmon); soy nuts or soy Beans (aka edamame); ground flax seed
    • Plant sterols (and stanols): For most adults, the general recommendation for plant sterols is 2 grams daily, divided over 3 meals.
      • Sources include avocados, corn oil, sunflower seeds, foods/juices/spreads with added plant sterols.

What about my HDL cholesterol level?

Some medicine can affect this type of cholesterol, however most often the HDL cholesterol is improved most with frequent, daily physical activity. Weight management is also important while increasing exercise daily. As you increase your daily physical activity, gradual improvements in your HDL cholesterol levels should be seen (although this may take up to 6 months to see).

Want an easy technique for remembering HDL cholesterol (the “good one”) from LDL cholesterol (“the bad one”):

HDL: “Heart”, “Healthy”, and you want this number “High”
LDL: “Lousy”, “Lethal”, and you want it “Low”

*Ask your doctor about your specific cholesterol level goals

Online Links of Interest:

  • American Dietetic Association: www.eatright.org
    • Search key words: sterols, cholesterol, fats in their “search” box for further information.
    • Also link to the following ADA website for Nutritional Facts handouts: http://www.eatright.org

For more information, please consult with the medical professionals at Diabetes and Lipid Clinic of Alaska.

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