8 Step Plan to Lower Your Cholesterol

Read the Labels
Understand food labels to make healthier food choices.
Understand food labels to make healthier food choices.
©iStockphoto.com/Sean Locke

In 1994 the Food and Drug Administration took a hard look at how food manufacturers reported the nutritional value in food and revamped the now famous food label. Those charts on the back of food packages should become your best friend. When considering your cholesterol take note of the section on saturated fat. Saturated fats are usually solid or almost solid at room temperature. All animal fats, such as those in meat, poultry, and dairy products are saturated. Processed and fast foods are also laden with saturated fats. Saturated fats can make your cholesterol levels go through the roof. Reducing saturated fat to less than 10 percent of your caloric intake will help you lower your LDL blood cholesterol. For more on food labeling go to Food Label.

Food manufacturers can also be tricky in how they label their products to grab the attention of the health-conscious consumer. New rules are now in place to guide shoppers. It's important to know what the following terminology means when searching for healthy foods:

Reduced fat: 25% less fat than the same regular brand.

Light: 50% less fat than the same regular product.

Low fat: less than 3 grams of fat per serving.

Reduced or fewer calories: at least 25 percent fewer calories per serving than the reference food.

Fat-free: less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving.