We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Best Cholesterol Diet?

Karyn Maier
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 106,000,000 Americans over the age of 20 have elevated levels of cholesterol. Since high cholesterol translates to an increased risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, a cholesterol diet to reduce these and other risks is usually recommended. In fact, most patients are encouraged to adhere to specific dietary measures to shed excess weight before resorting to cholesterol-lowering medicine. However, what may be considered the best cholesterol diet often varies between individuals. For example, existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, are important factors to be considered.

The objective of every cholesterol diet is the same, though: to reduce circulating levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL, the bad kind of cholesterol) and increase high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Generally, this goal is achieved by reducing the intake of saturated and trans-fat foods and increasing consumption of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Association’s National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) has further developed these recommendations by issuing specific guidelines regarding the restriction of fats.

According to NCEP, the best cholesterol diet for most people calls for the consumption of 300 milligrams or less per day of total cholesterol. Total fat intake should not exceed 30 percent of daily calories. In addition, no more than 10 percent of daily calories should represent total intake of saturated fat.

For those who have already had a heart attack, a more restrictive cholesterol diet is recommended. This diet, sometimes referred to as the Step II Diet, is also suggested for people who have a total cholesterol level at or above 240 mg/dL, which indicates an increased risk of heart disease. According to these guidelines, total saturated fat intake should not exceed seven percent of calories and total cholesterol should not exceed 30 percent of daily calories.

In 2001, the NCEP released new guidelines known as the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) cholesterol diet. This diet benefits those with high cholesterol and existing heart disease, as well as those with metabolic disorders, including diabetes. Generally, the recommendations are the same as those described in the Step II diet above. However, it also permits total fat to come from 25-30 percent of total calorie intake, with 10 percent or less being polyunsaturated fat. In addition, the majority of fat intake should be monounsaturated, since this kind of fat naturally reduces LDL cholesterol.

Without the aid of a dietician to actually write out a daily menu, it can be difficult to keep track of fat restriction and intake. So, for practical purposes, the following is a sample of what the TLC diet might look like on a daily basis:

  • Lean meat, poultry, fish, legumes: 5 ounces (141.75 grams) or less per day
  • Dairy products (low-fat): 2-3 one-ounce (28.35 grams) servings per day *
  • Cereal, bread, rice, pasta: 6-11 one-half to one-ounce (14.17-28.35 grams) servings per day
  • Vegetables: 3-5 one-cup (240 milliliters) servings per day
  • Fats: 6-8 one-teaspoon (5 milliliters) servings per day

* Note that while egg yolks are limited to only 2-3 per week, there is no limit on egg whites

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Karyn Maier
By Karyn Maier
Contributing articles to WiseGeek is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's Catskill Mountain region, Karyn is also a magazine writer, columnist, and author of four books. She specializes in topics related to green living and botanical medicine, drawing from her extensive knowledge to create informative and engaging content for readers.
Discussion Comments
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier
Contributing articles to WiseGeek is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's Catskill...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.