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Health Information for the Public

The Wisdom Family Takes Four Steps To Keep Their Cholesterol in Check

Your Choice for Change - Honoring the Gift of Heart Health for American Indians

Section Four - Be Heart Healthy! Learn Ways To Lower Your Blood Cholesterol

Will: "Sally and I have lost weight, and our cholesterol levels are approaching normal. We feel good! The kids are eating healthy, too. We are healthy lifestyle role models for our children."

  1. Cut back on foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.

    Be Heart Smart: Watch for These Fats

    Saturated fat and trans fat are fats that raise blood cholesterol levels the most.

    Saturated fat is found in foods such as high-fat meat, cheese, milk, and butter.

    Trans fat is found in foods such as vegetable shortening, stick margarine, fried foods, and baked products (cookies, crackers, pies, and pastries).

    Stay away from these fats. Know where they hide. Read the Nutrition Facts labels.


    Start making healthy changes a few at a time.

    Eat more of these foods:

    • Fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt
    • Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
    • Corn (instead of flour) tortillas
    • FishPregnant and breastfeeding mothers: Talk to your health care provider to find out what types of fish are lower in mercury. Mercury may be harmful for your baby.
    • Turkey and chicken without skin
    • Lean cuts of meat
    • Beans and lentils
    Cut back on these foods:
    • Whole milk, regular cheese, and ice cream
    • Fatty cuts of meat and refried beans
    • Bacon, sausage, hotdogs, bologna, and canned meat
    • Liver, kidney, and other organ meats
    • Egg yolks (no more than four per week)
    • Lard and shortening
    • Butter and stick margarine
    • Fried foods, such as fried chicken and french fries
    • Fry bread
    • Doughnuts and pastries
  2. Read the Nutrition Facts label to choose foods lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.

    Compare these Nutrition Facts labels for an English muffin and a doughnut.

    • Choose foods that have 5 percent or less of the Daily Value for saturated fat and cholesterol.
    • Limit foods with 20 percent or more of the Daily Value for saturated fat and sodium.
    • Limit trans fat intake.

    Which would you choose?

    English Muffin Doughnut
    Nutrition Facts for English Muffin (Serving size is 1 muffin, Servings per container is 6): Total Fat is 1g and 2% daily value, Saturated Fat is 0g and 0% daily value, Trans Fat is 0g, and Cholesterol is 0mg. Nutrition Facts for Doughnut (Serving size is 1 doughnut, Servings per container is 1): Total Fat is 16g and 24% daily value, Saturated Fat is 4g and 20% daily value, Trans Fat is 5g, and Cholesterol is 5mg.

    Answer: The English muffin is the better choice. The doughnut is higher in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.


  3. Be physically active for 30 to 60 minutes on most days.
  4. Aim for a healthy weight. Lose weight if you are overweight.

    What Are Triglycerides?

    Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood. When your triglycerides are high, it can raise your risk of heart disease.

    A healthy triglyceride level is less than 150 mg/dL.

    Will: "The doctor told me my triglyceride level is 300 mg/dL. This is twice as high as the normal value. I cut back on sweets and soda. I drink less alcohol."

    These steps can help you control your triglyceride level:

    • Quit smoking.
    • Limit foods and beverages that are high in sugar.
    • Limit alcohol.
    • Aim for a healthy weight and lose weight if overweight.
    • Be physically active.

* Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers: Talk to your health care provider to find out what types of fish are lower in mercury. Mercury may be harmful for your baby.

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Public Health Service
National Institutes of Health
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
NIH Publication No. 08-6340
June 2008

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