Eat well to control cholesterol

High blood cholesterol can lead to cholesterol buildup and blockage in your arteries, which can cause complications such as stroke and heart disease. What you eat may significantly affect the amount of cholesterol in your blood. Here are some tips for adopting a heart-healthy diet that's designed to keep your cholesterol at optimal levels.

Avoid saturated and trans fats

Saturated fats often make up the largest source of cholesterol in a person's diet. Saturated fats increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol that clogs the arteries. Common sources of saturated fats are fatty meats; full-fat dairy products such as milk, ice cream and cheese; and certain tropical oils such as palm and coconut.

Trans fats can have an even worse effect on your cholesterol levels. These fats form when hydrogen is added to vegetable oils in a process called hydrogenation that makes the oils less likely to spoil. Trans fats are commonly found in margarine, shortening, and commercially fried and baked foods.

Choose unsaturated fats

Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats can lower your total cholesterol. Find unsaturated fats in vegetable oils such as olive, safflower and soybean; nuts; olives; avocados; and fatty fish such as salmon and sardines.

Minimize dietary cholesterol

Cholesterol in foods can raise both total and bad cholesterol. Sources of dietary cholesterol include eggs, meats and full-fat dairy products; eggs contribute the most cholesterol. Doctors recommend decreasing dietary cholesterol to reduce LDL levels. The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day.

Apr. 01, 2014 See more In-depth