SIU School of Medicine

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Division of General Internal Medicine


Cholesterol - Is a fat-like substance found mostly in animal products. The body also makes cholesterol.

Triglycerides - Another fat form found in blood and stored by the body for future use.

HDL - High density lipoproteins, the so-called "good cholesterol" which reduces risk of heart disease.

LDL - Low density lipoproteins, the so-called "bad cholesterol" which increases risk.

Saturated Fat - Those which are solid at room temperature found in animal sources such as bacon and lard and animal fat. Plants with saturated fat are coconut oil and palm oil. Saturated fat raises blood cholesterol.

Unsaturated Fat - Liquid at room temperature. Fat from plant sources like corn oil.

  • High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart attack.
  • Periodic screening for high blood cholesterol is recommended for all men ages 35-65 and women ages 45-65.
  • If you have not received a blood cholesterol measurement within the past 3-5 years, please request that your primary care team order one.
  • Following a diet with less cholesterol and less saturated fat is necessary to lower blood cholesterol.

Major Sources of Saturated Fat and Cholesterol in the Diet

Saturated Fat

  1. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, meatloaf
  2. Whole milk, whole milk beverages
  3. Cheeses, excluding cottage cheese
  4. Beef steaks, roasts
  5. Hot dogs, ham, lunch meats
  6. Donuts, cookies, cakes
  7. Eggs


  1. Eggs
  2. Beef steaks, roasts
  3. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, meatloaf
  4. Whole milk, whole milk beverages
  5. Hot dogs, ham, lunch meats
  6. Pork, including chops, roasts
  7. Donuts, cookies, cakes
  8. Cheeses, excluding cottage cheese


Acceptable Ingredients

Canola Oil Olive oil
Carob powder Safflower oil
Cocoa powder Sesame oil
Corn oil Skim milk
Diglycerides Soybean oil
Hydrolyzed ingredients Soybean oil, partially hydrogenated
Monoglycerides Sunflower oil
Nonfat dried milk solids  

Unacceptable Ingredients

Bacon fat Hydrogenated fat or oil
Beef fat Lard
Butter Meat fat
Chicken fat Milk chocolate
Chocolate, real Palm or palm kernel oil
Chocolate, imitation Shortening
Cocoa butter Turkey fat
Coconut Vegetable fat (may be coconut or palm)
Coconut oil Vegetable shortening
Cream and cream sauces Whole milk solids
Egg and egg-yolk solids  


  • Use skim or low-fat (1/2 %) milk. Make the change from whole milk or 2% to 1/2% gradually over weeks to months.
  • Replace butter with vegetable oil margarine.
  • Avoid food containing saturated vegetable oils such as palm oil and coconut oil.
  • Avoid solid cooking fats.
  • Replace regular cheeses (Swiss, cheddar, American) with low-fat cheeses (part-skim mozzarella, low-fat American).
  • Trim fat around meat, and use lean beef, pork or veal.
  • Avoid meat products very high in fat (regular hamburger, hot dogs, bacon, and sausage).
  • Eat chicken and turkey (without skin) and fish more often.
  • Use turkey breast, lean roast beef, and lean ham in place of salami and bologna for luncheon meats.
  • Replace high-fat snacks (potato chips, peanuts, cashews, candy bars) with low-fat snacks (pretzels, home-made popcorn, carrots, fresh fruits).
  • Have one meatless meal (pasta, fruit salad) at least once a week.
  • Avoid commercially made bakery products (donuts, cakes, cookies, pies).
  • Use vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, corn, soybean and olive for cooking, frying and baking.
  • Use homemade salad dressing.
  • Decrease consumption of egg yolks to 1-2 per week.
  • Use egg whites or egg substitutes in cooking and baking.
  • Avoid commercially prepared cookies, cakes, and pies.
  • Limit portion sizes of lean meat, fish and poultry to no more than six ounces per day.
  • Eliminate organ meats (liver, brain, kidney)


  1. Better choices for preparing meat and fish:
    Au jus Boiled Poached
    Baked Char-broiled Roasted
    Barbecued Marinated Steamed

    Poor choices:
    Au gratin Casserole Gravy
    Bacon Coconut Hollandaise
    Bearnaise Creamed Prime
    Buttered Escalloped Sausage

    Terms to question:
    Breaded: Is it fried? What type of fat is used?
    Broiled: Often butter is used in broiling; ask for fat to be left off.
    Fried: What type of fat is used?
    Grilled: What type of fat is used?
    Seasoned: What type of fat is used?
    Specially prepared: What exactly does this mean?
  2. Order salad dressings, sauces and gravies served on the side.
  3. Divide the meat portion into two servings instead of one large serving. Eat one and ask for a wrapper to take the other home.
  4. Ask for margarine instead of butter.
  5. Ask for skim milk or low-fat milk to drink or use in coffee or tea.
  6. Avoid rich cheese dishes and foods that are obviously high in egg, such as Quiche.
  7. Ask for sherbet or fruit for dessert instead of rich pastries or ice cream.