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Health Information for the Public

The Gómez Family Plan To Keep Their Cholesterol Normal

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

Mario says: "Isabel and I have lost weight, and our cholesterol levels are reaching normal
levels. We feel good! The kids are eating healthy foods, too."

Watch out for the "Bad Fat Duo"— saturated fat and trans fat.

Saturated fat and trans fat are fats that raise blood cholesterol levels the most. Stay away from them. Know where they hide. Read the food label.

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 like cookies, crackers, pies, and pastries.

Start eating heart healthy foods by making a few changes at a time.

Eat more of these foods:

  • Fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • FishPregnant and nursing mothers: Talk to your health care provider to find out the types of fish you can eat that are lower in mercury. Mercury can be harmful for your baby.
  • Turkey and chicken without skin
  • Lean cuts of meat
  • Beans and lentils
  • Corn (instead of flour) tortillas

Cut back on these foods:

  • Whole milk, full-fat cheese, and ice cream
  • Fatty cuts of meat and refried beans
  • Sausage, hotdogs, and bologna
  • Liver, kidney, and other organ meats
  • Egg yolks— Have no more than four a week.
  • Butter and stick margarine
  • Lard, coconut, palm, or palm kernel oil

*Pregnant and nursing mothers: Talk to your health care provider to find out the types of fish you can eat
that are lower in mercury. Mercury can be harmful for your baby.

Read the food label to choose foods lower in saturated fat, trans fat,
and cholesterol.

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

Which soup is the better choice?

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.

2. Do 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days.

3. Aim for a healthy weight. Lose weight if you are overweight.

What are triglycerides?

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

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

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

These steps can help you control your triglyceride level:

  • Control your weight.
  • Be physically active.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Limit foods and beverages that are high in sugar.
  • Limit alcohol.

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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. 08-6353
June 2008

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