High Cholesterol? A Simple Chart for Healthy Foods and Diet May Help.

courtesy of A.D.A.M.
courtesy of A.D.A.M.

If you got to this page, I suppose you have this problem- elevated cholesterol…. Well, welcome to the club and my other guess would be that you already have read a lot of information about this problem. I will not educate you in full on “what it is and how it can put our health in danger”, though by using links through the read you can get tips about cholesterol levels.

To put it short, cholesterol is a lipid (natural fat) that is carried in the blood. It is a soft waxy substance.

Cholesterol is important for the formation of cell membranes and hormones. It plays a part in the production of steroid hormones (such as Estrogen, Testosterone and Cortisone), the transportation of fats around the body, the creation of Vitamin D (vital for strong bones and teeth) and to build cell membranes.

Our body needs cholesterol and it is synthesized in the liver, but a small amount is absorbed directly from cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs, dairy products and shellfish. There are many tips to help you reduce you bad cholesterol (LDL) and tips to get you good cholesterol (HDL) up. 

The problem is not the cholesterol itself but it is in the excessive cholesterol - particularly the "bad " LDL cholesterol which contributes to plaque build up in the arteries. 

 If you have an excess of cholesterol in your blood, it can stick to the walls of the arteries. When cholesterol adheres to the artery walls it is called plaque. Plaque will gradually narrow your arteries and can even block them completely.

If an artery that supplies blood to the muscles in your heart becomes blocked, a heart attack can occur.

If an artery that supplies blood to your brain becomes blocked, a stroke can occur.

More that a million Americans die of heart disease each year. One of the major causes is high cholesterol levels in the blood.

The National Cholesterol Education Program suggests that total blood cholesterol level should be:

 200 mg/dL* normal blood cholesterol

200-239 mg/dL* borderline-high

 240 mg/dL* high cholesterol.

*(milligrams per deciliter, a unit of measure that shows the concentration of a substance in a specific amount of fluid)

This blood cholesterol chart shows what your blood cholesterol levels should be and includes low and high cholesterol level measurements

Blood Cholesterol Level Chart
Borderline (high)
High Risk
Total Cholesterol
< 200
> 240
< 150
> 500
Low Density Cholesterol
< 130
> 240
High Density Cholesterol
> 50
< 35

Managing high cholesterol isn't a simple do-it-yourself project. You need to work with your health care provider. Your health care provider may prescribe a cholesterol lowering medication. However, it is best to try to reduce it first by changing your diet unless your levels are dangerously high. Even if you need to take medicine, it is still important to follow a low fat diet.

But food by itself isn’t a miraculous cure-all. A handful of walnuts or a bowl of oatmeal won't make your high bad cholesterol go down in a click. It will neither give you a free pass to eat all the high-fat foods after you ate some of good ones. To benefit, you still must eat low-fat foods on a daily basis, watch your weight, and get more exercise.

"Eating a healthy diet is not just about eating a few special foods," says Suzanne Farrell, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "There's a bigger picture. You need to practice moderation, eat a variety of foods, and get enough physical activity."

My idea was to summarize my findings, gather dieting tips and put out some kind of a chart to help you when you go shopping.

Fruits and vegetables

Choose: Fresh, frozen or dried fruits and vegetables of different colors; fruit and vegetables juices.

Go easy on: Avocados, olives (thought they have lots of benefits, they are not too good in big amounts. One avocado a week will be enough for the benefit of lowering your LDL)

Try to omit: Coconut, fried onion, vegetables with cream or cheese sauces, and coleslaw with excessive dressing, fruits prepared with whipped cream, cream cheese or other high fat sauces.

Shopping tips: If you buy canned fruits, select those in light syrup or packed in fruit juices. Use salt-free canned vegetables.


Choose: Almonds, chestnuts, pecans, walnuts

Go easy on: Peanuts, peanut butter, Brazil nuts

Try to omit: Cashews, macadamia nuts

Grains (breads, crackers, cereal)

Choose: Bread: whole wheat, rye, pumpernickel, Italian, French, pita, rice cakes, not-fat croutons, whole wheat tortillas. Ezekiel bread.

Crackers: rye, saltine, melba, graham, matzo.

Cereal: cooked, wheat bran, oat bran, hominy, polenta, couscous.

Go easy on: Pancakes, waffles, biscuits, corn bread, French toast, taco shells, breakfast bars, homemade muffins and biscuits.

Try to omit: Croissants, butter rolls, sweet rolls, Danish pastry, doughnuts, commercial muffins and biscuits, high-fat granola type cereal, high fat crackers.

Shopping tips: Read the labels, as many crackers, cereal and commercial baked products vary in amount of fats and contain trans fats, that may raise “bad” cholesterol. Check the serving line: a total fat content of 2 grams or less in a serving is ideal. No trans fats! Avoid buying instant cooked cereals and ready-to-eat cereals containing more than 300 milligrams of sodium in a serving.

Cooking tips: when preparing items like pancakes, muffins or French toasts, modify the recipe to include lower fat ingredients such as egg substitutes, non-fat milk, fruit purees or plain yogurt to replace the fat.

Potatoes, Pasta and Rice.

Choose: Potatoes: mashed (no added fat), baked, boiled, sweet.

Pastas: macaroni, spaghetti, no yolk noodles, spinach noodles.

Rice: brown, wild

Go easy on: mashed potatoes with fat added, dumplings, rice pilaf, egg noodles.

Try to omit: Hash browns, French fries, fried potatoes, frozen potato products, potato salad, potato chips, pasta or rice dished made with added butter, cream or cheese sauces; pasta salads, fried rice, chow mein noodles.

Cooking tips: Whole grain pastas and brown rice take longer to cook than their refined versions.

Dairy Products:

Choose: Fat-free (skim) milk, 1% milk, non-fat dry milk, low-fat evaporated milk, non-fat cocoa mixes, plain or fruited non-fat yogurts, non-fat cottage cheese, cheeses containing 2 grams or less of fat in one ounce.

Go easy on: 2% milk, low-fat yogurts, part skim or imitation hard cheeses, cheeses containing no more than 5 gram of fat in an ounce.

Try to omit: Whole milk, evaporated whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, hot chocolate mixes containing coconut oil, cream, half & half, whipped cream, non-dairy creamers, custard style yogurts, cream cheese, hard cheeses such as Swiss, American, Cheddar, Colby, Muenster

Shopping tips: All cheeses contain significant amounts of sodium. The best cheese selections are those that contain no more than 2-3 grams of fat far ounce, and no more than 2 grams of saturated fat per ounce.


Choose: Bouillon, consommé, fat-free broth, defatted homemade broth-base soups, wonton soup, homemade cream soups made with skim milk, low-fat stews and chili.

Go easy on: commercial broth-base soups, low-fat bean and pea soups.

Try to omit: Commercial cream soups, chunky style soups, commercial stews and chili.

Shopping  tips: Use soups with less than 3 grams of fat per cup; check the labels of commercially made soups for sodium content.


Choose: Egg whites, fat-free, cholesterol free egg substitutes

Go easy on: Egg substitutes containing more than 2 grams of fat in a serving.

Try to omit: Egg yolks (limit to 3 egg yolks per week)

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Shellfish, Meat alternatives.

Choose: Fish, tuna canned in water, poultry without skin, lean beef cuts, round, sirloin, tenderloin, Canadian bacon, luncheon meat containing less than 2 grams of fat in an ounce. Legumes: vegetarian baked beans, non-fat canned beans, tofu, split peas, chick peas, kidney beans, navy beans, lentils, soybeans.

Go easy on: chuck beef, ground beef, pork, low-fat luncheon meats, lamb, ground turkey, shellfish, tuna canned in oil, canned salmon.

Try to omit: Sausages, frankfurters, bratwurst, salami, regular luncheon meat, high-fat pork, salt pork, bacon, high-fat beef (t-bones, prime rib, corn beef), fried meats, poultry or fish; meats canned or frozen in gravy or sauce; ground lamb, mutton, goose, domestic duck, poultry skin, organ meats such as liver and heart.

Shopping and cooking tips: Trim all visible fats from meats before cooking when possible. Bake, broil or grill meats to remove the most fat. Substitute lean cuts of poultry in dishes normally containing beef or pork. To reduce sodium avoid cured, smoked, or pickled meat products.

Fats and Oils

The American heart Association recommends that all types of fat be limited to 25-35% of your daily calorie needs.

Choose: Aerosol vegetable spray, fat free salad dressings, spreads containing plant sterols.

Go easy on: Monounsaturated fats (olive oil, canola oil, olives, sunflower oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, low-fat margarines and spreads)

Try to omit: Hydrogenated vegetable oils, butter, coconut oil, palm oil, lard, stick margarine, bacon fat, margarine made from saturated fats, cocoa butter, vegetable shortenings, salad dressings made with cheese or cream.

Shopping tips: Check food labels; select fats with the lowest amount of saturated fats.

Sweets and snacks.

Choose: Low-fat frozen deserts (fudgesicles, sherbet, sorbet, fruit ices, popsicles), gelatin, puddings made with skim milk, low-fat cakes (such as angel food cake), low-fat cookies; fig bars, vanilla wafers, ginger snaps; non-fat candy (jelly beans, licorice, hard candy); low-fat snacks (air-popped popcorn, rice cakes), molasses, honey, marmalades.

Go easy on: Homemade cakes or cookies made with using unsaturated oils, fruit crisps and cobblers, low-fat frozen yogurt, low-fat ice-cream, ice milk, fudge, taffy.

Try to omit: Ice cream, frozen yogurt, high-fat cakes (most commercial cake, frosted cakes, commercial pies, most commercial cookies), high-fat candies and snacks (milk chocolate, white chocolate, peanut brittle, yogurt covered candies, buttered popcorn, potato chips, corn chips and other high-fat snack chips); coconut.

Shopping and cooking tips: Select low-fat frozen desserts that contain less than 3 grams of fat in a half cup serving. Homemade baked goods can easily be modified by using skim milk, egg substitutes, less fat and using oil to replace solid fats. If you have elevated triglycerides, it is recommended that you decrease your use of foods high in sugar.


Choose: Water, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea, ice tea,  herbal teas, fruit flavored drinks, carbonated beverages, wine.

Go easy on: Cappuccino, instant coffee with added fat.

Try to omit: Beverages containing cream or ice cream (eggnog, milkshakes, pina colada)

Condiments and sauces:

Choose: Spices, horseradish, vinegar, herbs, ketchup, seasoned salt, soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, pickles, garlic, fat-free gravy,

Try to omit: Gravy, tartar sauce, chip and vegetable dip, whipped toppings, Alfredo sauce, hollandaise, cheese sauce, cream sauce, mayonnaise.

Shopping tips: Many condiments and seasonings can be high in sodium. Carefully read labels for sodium content. Many condiments and sauces are available in fat-free versions- check the labels.

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Comments 8 comments

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago

Nicely done with great details--what to eat, what to go easy on and what to omit. How clear! Very comprehensive and love your conversational style of writing. Rated it up!

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Thanks for all the great information. It's really helpful.

dcase profile image

dcase 6 years ago

I actually read it, understood it and got something out of it.. great post - thanks for the info!

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Angeline, thank you for your support.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Pop, I wanted to summarize and simplify all the info I went through.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

dcase, I am glad to see you, thanks for your comment. It shows that my aim was achieved.

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI

Super great information. You can't wrong with this hub! So very very helpful. Makes for a easy shopping list. Up Up Up!

noel12199 5 years ago

thanks a lot for the great information

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