Good VS Bad Cholesterol and What Do I Eat?

There are often a few different values we see when we have a lipid panel drawn:

   -Total Cholesterol: (The sum of our "good" and "bad" cholesterol)

   -LDL Cholesterol (low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol; the "bad" cholesterol)

   -HDL Cholesterol (high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol; the "good" cholesterol)

   -Cholesterol/HDL Ratio: (Essentially our PAC-man-to-dot ratio)

      -Think of the Ratio as this - Do you have your setting on easy, medium, or hard mode?


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a wealth of information and suggestions for reducing and managing cholesterol.  Here are some ideas they have to get you started that they allow to be replicated.  However, I am always available for a more individualized approach as well!


A heart-healthy diet is recommended to reduce your unhealthy blood cholesterol levels, manage high blood pressure, and lower your risk for heart disease.

To follow a heart-healthy diet,

Tips for Choosing Heart-Healthy Fats

Choose lean protein and low-fat dairy foods to reduce saturated fat intake.

Instead of…


Whole milk, cheese, yogurt,  and ice cream

1%, ½%, or skim milk, low-fat cheese, non-fat yogurt, and low-fat ice cream

Fatty, marbled beef and pork

Lean beef, pork, or venison

Poultry with skin

Poultry without skin

Butter, stick margarine

Reduced-fat, whipped, or liquid spreads


Avoid trans fats.

Choose foods with heart healthy fats.


Instead of…


Butter, stick margarine, or solid shortening

Reduced-fat, whipped, or liquid spreads

Beef, pork, or poultry with skin

Fish and seafood

Chips, crackers, snack foods

Raw or unsalted nuts and seeds or nut butters

Hummus with vegetables


Tips for Choosing Heart-Healthy Carbohydrates

Consume foods rich in viscous (soluble) fiber

Limit refined carbohydrates


Tips for Reducing Sodium (Salt)

Although sodium is important for your body to function, too much sodium can be harmful for people with high blood pressure.  As sodium and fluid buildup in your tissues and bloodstream, your blood pressure increases. High blood pressure may cause damage to other organs and increase your risk for a stroke.

Keep your salt intake to 2300 milligrams or less per day. Even if you take a pill for blood pressure or a water pill (diuretic) to remove fluid, it is still important to have less salt in your diet. Ask your RDN what amount of sodium is right for you.


Foods to Choose or to Limit

Food Group

Foods to Choose

Foods to Limit


Whole grain breads and cereals, including whole wheat, barley, rye, buckwheat, corn, teff, quinoa, millet, amaranth, brown or wild rice, sorghum, and oats

Pasta, especially whole wheat or other whole grain types

Brown rice, quinoa or wild rice

Whole grain crackers, bread, rolls, pitas

Home-made bread with reduced-sodium baking soda

Breads or crackers topped with salt

Cereals (hot or cold) with more than 300 mg sodium per serving

Biscuits, cornbread, and other “quick” breads prepared with baking soda

Bread crumbs or stuffing mix from a store

High-fat bakery products, such as doughnuts, biscuits, croissants, danish pastries, pies, cookies

Instant cooking foods to which you add hot water and stir—potatoes, noodles, rice, etc.

Packaged starchy foods—seasoned noodle or rice dishes, stuffing mix, macaroni and cheese dinner

Snacks made with partially hydrogenated oils, including chips, cheese puffs, snack mixes, regular crackers, butter-flavored popcorn

Protein Foods

Lean cuts of beef and pork (loin, leg, round, extra lean hamburger)

Skinless poultry


Venison and other wild game

Dried beans and peas

Nuts and nut butters (unsalted)

Seeds and seed butters (unsalted)

Meat alternatives made with soy or textured vegetable protein

Egg whites or egg substitute

Cold cuts made with lean meat or soy protein

Higher-fat cuts of meats (ribs, t-bone steak, regular hamburger)

Bacon, sausage, or hot dogs

Cold cuts, such as salami or bologna, deli meats, cured meats, corned beef

Organ meats (liver, brains, gizzards, sweetbreads)

Poultry with skin

Fried or smoked meat, poultry, and fish

Whole eggs and egg yolks (more than 2-4 per week)

Salted legumes, nuts, seeds, or nut/seed butters

Meat alternatives with high levels of sodium (>300 mg per serving) or saturated fat (>5 g per serving)

Dairy and Dairy Alternatives

Nonfat (skim), low-fat, or 1%-fat milk

Nonfat or low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese

Fat-free and low-fat cheese

Fortified non-dairy milk: almond, cashew, pea, and soy

Whole milk, 2% fat milk, buttermilk

Whole milk yogurt or ice cream

Cream, half-&-half

Cream cheese

Sour cream



Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables without added fat or salt


Canned or frozen vegetables with salt, fresh vegetables prepared with salt, butter, cheese, or cream sauce

Fried vegetables

Pickled vegetables such as olives, pickles, or sauerkraut


Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruit

Fried fruits

Fruits served with butter or cream


Unsaturated oils (corn, olive, peanut, soy, sunflower, canola)

Soft or liquid margarines and vegetable oil spreads

Salad dressings made from saturated fats

Butter, stick margarine, shortening

Partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats

Tropical oils (coconut, palm, palm kernel oils)


Prepared or homemade foods, including soups, casseroles, and salads made from recommended ingredients and contain <600 mg sodium.

Low-sodium seasonings (ketchup, barbeque sauce)

Spices, herbs, Salt-free seasoning mixes and marinades


Lemon or lime juice

Prepared foods, including soups, casseroles, and salads made from recommended ingredients and contain >600 mg sodium.

Frozen meals and prepared sides that are >600 mg of sodium

Sugary and/or fatty desserts, candy, and other sweets

Salts:  sea salt, kosher salt, onion salt, and garlic salt, seasoning mixes containing salt

Flavorings: bouillon cubes, catsup or ketchup, barbeque sauce, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, salsa, relish, teriyaki sauce




Mary Ball RDN Care Manager

You Might Also Enjoy...

Aaahh!!! Real Carbs

Carbohydrates.  13 letters that the media has turned into “the enemy” for so many.  If carbohydrates (carbs) are so evil though, why does our body crave them?  Why do we always go back to them like they are an ex we can’t get over?