A diet rich in nutrients and low in calories can lower cholesterol, help manage weight and reduce blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. A heart-healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, nuts and beans. Skinless poultry and fish are good choices of protein, and non-tropical vegetable oils are healthy fats.
It is best to limit overall intake of fats and oils and avoid saturated fat found in butter, lard, shortening, palm oil and coconut oil, according to UCSF Medical Center. Low-fat and non-fat replacements, including low-fat mayonnaise, low-fat peanut butter, and low-fat or fat-free salad dressings and gravies, are healthy choices for a low-cholesterol diet. Trans fats found in high-fat processed foods and prepackaged snack foods, such as granola, pies, pastries, doughnuts and cookies, are not recommended.
Healthy sources of protein include lean cuts of meat, such as loins or rounds, states UCSF Medical Center. Eggs, beans, peas, lentils and tofu are heart-healthy foods, while heavily fatted meats, such as bacon, ribs, deli meats, sausage and organ meats, make poor choices. Additionally, whole-grain breads, rice and cereals are recommended for heart health.
Baking, broiling, boiling, poaching and roasting are all preferable to frying, notes UCSF Medical Center. Using lemon juice, vinegar or olive oil mist on steamed vegetables reduces added fat. Herbs, seasonings and oil-free marinades add flavor.