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Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Diet Foods

By Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.

You don’t have to eat all low-fat, low-cholesterol foods to successfully lose weight. However, eating foods low in fat, specifically those that are low in saturated, trans fat and dietary cholesterol, helps reduce your risk for high cholesterol and heart disease. Furthermore, since fat provides 9 calories per gram, and since protein and carbs each contain 4 calories per gram, eating too many high-fat foods can be detrimental when trying to lose weight.

Egg Whites

Although egg yolks are high in fat and dietary cholesterol, egg whites are excellent diet foods because they are fat-free, cholesterol-free, rich in protein and low in calories. One large egg white contains 3.6 grams of protein but just 17 calories. Protein is beneficial for weight loss and healthy weight management, because it increases satiety and helps you burn extra calories, according to a 2009 study published in “The Journal of Nutrition.”

Fruit and Vegetables

Because fruits and vegetables are plant-based foods, they are cholesterol-free and most are also low in calories. Since fruits and veggies are rich in fiber, they help keep blood cholesterol levels in check. When looking for low-calorie veggies, choose non-starchy varieties that are lower in carbs. Examples include leafy greens, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, celery, cucumbers and mushrooms. Low-calorie fruits include blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe and apples.

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Low-Fat Dairy Foods

High-fat dairy foods contain large quantities of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, but low-fat and fat-free dairy products make excellent low-calorie, low-fat and low-cholesterol diet foods. Examples include fat-free cottage cheese, reduced-fat cheese, fat-free milk, plain, non-fat Greek yogurt and light soy milk. Low-fat dairy foods are also rich in dietary protein and calcium, which is beneficial for healthy weight management, according to 2009 review published in the “Journal of the America College of Nutrition."

Meat Substitutes

Plant-based meat substitutes, such as seitan and tofu, are protein-rich and cholesterol free. Seitan, which is a form of wheat gluten, is also low in fat and free from saturated fat. Although tofu does contain more dietary fat than seitan, the fat in soy-based tofu is mainly from heart-healthy, unsaturated fatty acids. The Institute of Medicine suggests that adults obtain at least 20 percent of their daily calories from dietary fat. However, if the higher fat content in tofu is a concern, look for reduced-fat tofu varieties.

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