TLC Daily Food Guide to Lower Your Cholesterol
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts
To lower your blood cholesterol level, choose only the leanest meats, poultry, fish and shellfish.
- Choose chicken and turkey without skin or remove skin before eating.
- Some fish, like cod, have less saturated fat than either chicken or meat.
- Since even the leanest meat, chicken, fish, and shellfish have saturated fat and cholesterol, limit the total amount you eat to 5 ounces or less per day.
In general, chicken and turkey are low in saturated fat, especially when the skin is removed. When shopping for poultry remember:
- You can buy chicken and turkey pieces with the skin already removed. Or buy pieces with the skin on and remove it yourself before eating . . . it's easy to do. Remember, the white meat itself always contains less saturated fat than the dark meat.
- Limit goose and duck. They are high in saturated fat, even with the skin removed.
- Try fresh ground turkey or chicken that is made from white meat like the breast.
- Remember that some chicken and turkey hot dogs are lower in saturated fat and total fat than pork and beef hot dogs. There are also "lean" beef hot dogs and vegetarian (made with tofu) franks that are low in fat and saturated fat.
When shopping for fish and shellfish remember that:
- Most fish is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than meat or poultry.
- Shellfish varies in cholesterol content. Shellfish have little saturated fat and total fat. Even shrimp can be enjoyed occasionally on a TLC Diet provided you eat less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol a day. For example, 3 ounces of steamed shrimp has 167 milligrams of cholesterol.
Dry peas and beans and tofu (bean curd) are great meat substitutes that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Dry peas and beans also have a lot of fiber, which can help to lower blood cholesterol. Try adding a ½ cup beans to pasta, soups, casseroles, and vegetable dishes. Tofu takes on the flavor of marinades well. Try marinating tofu in a nonfat dressing or a tangy sauce and grilling or baking for a heart healthy dish. For more, please read the TLC Daily Food Guide to Lower Your Cholesterol.
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Medically reviewed by Robert Bargar, MD; Board Certification in Public Health & General Preventive Medicine July 13, 2017
Portions of the above information has been provided with the kind permission of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (www.nhlbi.nih.gov/).