Low-Cholesterol, Low-Fat, Low-Salt & Low-Sugar Diet

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Eat mainly whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources on this diet. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends following a diet low in cholesterol, fat, salt and added sugars .This type of diet may help you limit your risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes. If you eat a lot of processed foods, however, it may be difficult to follow this type of diet.

Cholesterol Recommendations

Having high cholesterol increases your risk for clogged arteries and heart disease. Saturated fat affects your cholesterol levels more than dietary cholesterol, but the dietary cholesterol does make a difference. The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, or TLC, diet recommends limiting your daily cholesterol intake to no more than 200 milligrams. Animal foods are the only foods that contain cholesterol; eggs, full-fat dairy products and meats are the major sources of it. Use fat-free dairy products and choose plant-based protein sources, such as legumes, nuts and seeds, more often to limit your cholesterol intake.

Limiting Fats

A diet high in fat also tends to be high in calories, increasing your risk for obesity and related health problems. Although some fat in your diet is important for good health, you need to choose the right types and amounts of fat for the best health results. The American Heart Association recommends limiting total fat to no more than 35 percent of your daily calories, with no more than 10 percent of calories coming from each saturated and polyunsaturated fats. Any remaining fat, or about 10 to 15 percent of your daily calories, should come from monounsaturated fats. If you have high cholesterol, limit your saturated fat to no more than 7 percent of your daily calories. Choose fish more often than meat or poultry, opt for low-fat dairy products and use vegetable or nut oils instead of butter or lard.

Recommended Sodium Intake

Getting too much sodium in your diet can increase your risk for high blood pressure. Healthy Americans should limit sodium to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day, and those with an increased risk for heart disease should only get 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day in their diet. Limit processed foods, which are among the main sources of sodium in the diet, and use herbs and spices to flavor foods instead of salt when cooking at home.

Suggested Sugar Limit

Sugar provides calories without providing any essential nutrients, making it a source of empty calories. Getting too much sugar in the diet may make you more likely to gain weight and may increase your risk for heart disease, according to a scientific statement by the American Heart Association published in "Circulation" in 2009. As of 2004, most Americans were getting about 355 calories per day from added sugars. This is much higher than the AHA recommendation that women get no more than 100 calories per day from added sugars and men no more than 150 calories per day.

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