Jan 9, 2015

How to Keep Cholesterol in Check

Meats & ProteinPortionCholesterol (mg)Total Fat (g)Saturated Fat (g)
Tofu1/2 cup0112
Pinto beans1/2 cup010
Halibut3 ½ oz4130
Salmon3 ½ oz63122
Oysters3 ½ oz5521
Crab3 ½ oz5210
Lobster3 ½ oz7110
Tuna (in water)3 ½ oz3010
Shrimp3 ½ oz19410
Squid3 ½ oz23110
Beef (ground, lean)         3 ½ oz78187
Beef (short ribs)3 ½ oz944218
Beef (sirloin)3 ½ oz89125
Beef Liver3 ½ oz38952
Veal (top round)3 ½ oz13552
Lamb (foreshank)3 ½ oz106146
Ham3 ½ oz5362
Pork (tenderloin)3 ½ oz7962
Pork (chop)3 ½ oz852510
Chicken Liver3 ½ oz63162
Chicken (no skin)3 ½ oz8551

I had a screening which indicated my cholesterol was high and my blood sugar was higher than usual so I want to share some things about cholesterol.  There is good cholesterol known as HDL which I like to call "happy" because of the "H" in it and LDL which is bad cholesterol and I call it "lousy" because of the "L" in it.  The good cholesterol has a purpose and the bad cholesterol does something but what does it all mean and where does it come from?  More importantly, what can I do to keep it within healthy ranges?
This post will include my favorite ideas on cholesterol.  Cholesterol is naturally produced by the body and there are certain things we can do to keep the body health and cholesterol in check.  The American Heart and Stroke Association suggests limiting your daily cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day unless you have heart disease and then it should be less than 200 mg per day.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced in the liver and disbursed into the bloodstream.  The American Heart and Stroke Association says the body uses cholesterol to  convert Vitamin D for the skin, aid in digestion, form cell membranes and develop hormones.  High density lipoproteins (HDL) are used to remove cholesterol from the blood stream and artery walls so the higher this number the better off you are.

Photo Credit

Cholesterol can cause a person to have strokes, heart attacks and heart disease.  Low density lipoproteins (LDL) builds up on artery walls and can cause coronary artery disease.  You have probably heard of plaque build up and it is important to know that a person's genetic make up and other factors such as gender can also impact this.  You have probably heard of high cholesterol 'running in the family' which means people in that family may be predisposed to high cholesterol making them more prone to also have high cholesterol. 

I am unsure of my family history but I have always had cholesterol on the higher level and it is typically the HDL (good cholesterol) that is high.  As an example, last year my HDL was 70 and the test I had was NOT fasting and it was indicated that the HDL should be greater than 60 but the total number should be less than 200.  My total was 201 which is higher than the combined total should be but since the HDL was high it contributed to the overall number being high.  The nurse let me know that most people had HDL much lower than the suggested 60 so that area was good but it is still important to be aware of the overall total.  2 years ago I was right around the same but this year is a different story.  My total was 220!!  With HDL being at 79 so, again, the HDL was above 60 but as it has increased so has my total.  And it seems like it is a lot so this leads me to think about what I have been eating to contribute to this?  How can I reduce the overall total?

Per the American Heart and Stroke Association physical activity, weight and diet are contributing factors -oh, and smoking - and I have not worked out in approximately 5 months by now.  This test was in November so I would have been around 3 months or so.  Admittedly I have been enjoying more things than used to be in my regular diet.  Things such as bacon here and there and cooking with the stock of meat -AKA animal fat and meat.  Exercise is something I have been having difficulty doing due to the injury but it a contributing factor.

Items high in cholesterol:
MEAT - Especially high fat cuts and organs such as liver and even fish
CHEESE- and other dairy

Using lean meats, removing the skin and fat, grilling, baking and blotting excess oil
are great ways to help with this.  PS, I love the skin on a baked chicken!  So good bye delicious skin.  I don't fry anything but I sure do love a fried piece of chicken here and there..... I think my here and there has turned into 'occasionally' and has to go back down to once every 2 months or so.  Egg yolks are very high in cholesterol but they also contain a stock load of nutrients and I typically use 1 yolk with a few whites but lately have been using mostly whole eggs.  Looks like I will be reverting back to my old practices as I eat eggs EVERY morning!  Again, it is OK to have a whole egg but it is good to limit yolks if/when cholesterol is an issue and if you eat eggs regularly.

See the chart below:

FatsPortionCholesterol (mg)Total Fat (g)Saturated Fat (g)
Butter1 tsp1143
Margarine1 tsp041
Vegetable Oils                  1 tsp051 - 2

Dairy ProductsPortionCholesterol (mg)Total Fat (g)Saturated Fat (g)
Milk (non-fat)1 cup400
Milk (low-fat)1 cup1032
Milk (whole)1 cup3385
Yogurt (non-fat)1 cup1000
Yogurt (whole)1 cup2975
Cheddar Cheese1 oz3096
Cottage Cheese (low-fat)1 cup1022
Graph and above graph obtained from:  http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/cholesterol_content_of_foods/

Ways to reduce cholesterol include the above cooking ideas, limiting egg yolks, using reduced fat or fat free milk, using a different milk such as almond or the like.  Avoid fried foods, baked goods and items with hydrogenated oils (trans fat- even if the label says "0") which are commonly in things like chips, popcorn, cookies, pie crusts, canned biscuits, creamer, shortening, margarine and many many more.  Incorporate fiber, substitute olive oil for other cooking oils and a little fact is potassium helps.  Exercise and physical activity can also help reduce cholesterol.

Foods that help reduce cholesterol:

RED WINE -(woohoo, right?)  Tip - this is referring to a 5 oz glass per day

The top four are 'super foods' in reducing cholesterol.  Personally, I began incorporating a half an avocado per day (because it is high in calories) with salad and then eating my fruits and veggies as well as taking a fiber supplement to give it all an extra boost.  This seemed to work and reduced the total number and I hope these tips will work for you!

Today I am linking up with Amanda for Friday Favs  - join in by clicking her name.




  1. I'm not a huge fan of Tofu, but we made it this week with some stir fry and it was delicious and so filling!!

    1. I'm not really a fan of tofu either. I wanted to delete it off the list but I could not get it off. Plus, some people eat it.

  2. I had my blood drawn this week for my annual physical on Monday. We'll just see where my cholesterol is....

  3. I drink a ton of green tea but I'll be sure to supplement with some red wine. ;)

  4. Great info here! I didn't know celery would help reduce cholesterol.

  5. Avocado is the best. Great post!