When you're cooking to lower cholesterol, you might think that fat is a four-letter word. But nutrition experts say that ridding your cooking of allfats and oils may actually work against efforts to lower your bloodcholesterol levels. When it comes to fat, what counts are both quality and quantity.
Eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The fiber in these foods helps lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Put these on your plate with every meal to reach these daily amounts: At least 5 cups of fruits and vegetables and three 1-ounce servings of whole grains a day.
Eat more beans, legumes (like lentils), seeds, and nuts. Your weekly target: 4 servings of either nuts, seeds, or legumes such as black beans, garbanzos (also called chickpeas), or lentils.
Put healthier fats to work for you. Favor unsaturated fats, such as canola, olive, and peanut oils. These oils are less likely than butter or lard to clog your arteries.
Eat fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, including albacore tuna, salmon, and sardines. Omega-3s seem to lower triglycerides, fight plaque in your arteries, lower blood pressure, and reduce your risk of abnormal heart rhythms.
Eat lean protein. Make beans, nuts, fish, and chicken your mainstays, and keep portions in check. The American Heart Association suggests you eat at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fish a week. Some cuts of meat have more fat than others, so look for leaner choices. If you’re craving some type of processed meat -- bacon, deli meats, hot dogs, sausage, chicken nuggets, or jerky -- limit those, too.
Feed your body regularly. When you skip a meal, you’re more likely to overeat later. For some people, eating 5 to 6 mini-meals works best to limit calories, help control blood sugars, and regulate metabolism. For others, 3 meals a day works better, since extra meals can trigger overeating. See which approach works for you.
Experiment with new flavors. Try using dried herbs and spices instead of salt, which can drive up your blood pressure. For chicken, try using rosemary, garlic, or sage. For fish, try dill or tarragon. Vinegars are another way to liven up ho-hum food.