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Swap This for That to Control Cholesterol

A diet that's low in cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat helps improve blood cholesterol levels. Luckily, eating this way doesn't have to mean skipping your favorite meals. Often, it's a simple matter of switching one tasty food for another.

Even small changes can make a big difference. A 2009 study in Atherosclerosis placed 30 women with high LDL ("bad") cholesterol on a controlled diet for just over two months. During half the study, the women had partially hydrogenated soybean oil in foods—another name for trans fat, found in many fried foods, baked goods, and stick margarines—replaced with liquid corn oil. This one switch lowered LDL cholesterol by 10 percent.

Which to switch?

Below are some other smart substitutions.

Instead of: Eggs sunny-side up

Eat this: Egg-white omelet

All the cholesterol in eggs is found in the yolks. In recipes, replace each whole egg with two egg whites. When baking, add a little vegetable oil for a moister consistency.

Instead of: Meat lasagna

Eat this: Vegetable lasagna

Most saturated fat comes from animal sources, including meat and dairy products. So use reduced-fat cheese as well.

Instead of: Pan-fried burger

Eat this: Grilled burger

Start with lean ground beef. Cook on a rack to let the fat drip away. Or get rid of saturated fat completely by grilling a portobello mushroom instead of a meat burger.

Instead of: Deep-fried chicken

Eat this: Baked chicken

Even healthy oils contain about 120 calories per tablespoon. Since being overweight can increase your cholesterol, it's important to watch those calories. To further reduce fat, choose light meat and remove the skin.