Eating a healthy diet isn’t always enough to combat high cholesterol. If you’re not already consuming foods that lower cholesterol, you might find the idea daunting. You will need to make some major changes, but you won’t sacrifice quality or flavor. Your only sacrifice will be your high cholesterol.
Multiple diets aim to tackle cholesterol, like DASH, TLC, Mediterranean, and others. Common components in them are low cholesterol foods, heart-healthy fats, and little to no meat.
Naturally Lower Your Cholesterol
Balance is necessary when you choose any diet, but variety is just as important to make sure your body receives enough nutrients. Filling your plate with vegetables, for example, is a good practice to start and maintain. Not only will you receive the proper nutrients, but you’ll also increase your fiber intake too. You might even lose weight and see a reduction in inflammation.
Meal Plan Ideas for Lowering Cholesterol
• 1/2c of unsweetened quinoa or oatmeal; cooked or unsweetened flake cereal with skim milk.
• Whole grain toast topped with almond butter, cinnamon, and chopped almonds.
• Egg white omelet loaded with sautéed vegetables
Serve with a ripe plantain or favorite fruit and unsweetened green tea with fresh lemon.
• 2 cups of romaine and baby spinach
• ½ c chickpeas, diced chicken breast, or tuna
• ¼ sliced avocado
• Fresh vegetables of your choice
• 2 tablespoons of low fat cheese
Dress your salad with a heart healthy dressing that includes olive, sunflower, or another plant-based oil. Balsamic and red wine vinegars make excellent additions to homemade dressings too.
Would you rather have a more portable lunch? Try a vegetable wrap by spreading a whole-wheat tortilla with 2 tablespoons of hummus. Mix your chosen vegetables and greens in a bowl before spreading it on your tortilla. Simply wrap it up and you’re ready to go.
• 3 ounces of salmon, tuna, cod, tofu, or lean chicken breast*
• 1 c steamed vegetable of choice dressed with olive oil and lemon
• ½ c cooked brown rice, quinoa, or soba noodles
• Green salad
*Avoid organ meats that contain large amounts of cholesterol.
• Roasted chickpeas
• Kale chips
• Reduced sodium nuts and seeds
• Whole grain crackers
• Fresh fruit like apples, oranges, or berries
• Fresh vegetables like baby carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower
Snacks help tide you over until mealtimes and stabilize blood sugar levels, which can lead you to overeat. You can also introduce proteins like 1 ounce of reduced fat cheese.
Aside from deep-frying, any cooking method works well in preparing your meals. Pan-frying should be kept to a minimum, and be sure to choose heart-healthy oils.
These seasonings contain no cholesterol and will add variety to your meals, and you’re encouraged to use them liberally. However, you should limit your salt intake and seek alternatives to salt, such as lemon juice, which enhances the flavor without increasing sodium.
Is a total diet overhaul too much? Perhaps you already consume a well-rounded diet, but want more ideas to maintain or lower cholesterol. You can opt for these foods that lower cholesterol and unclog arteries in place of your unhealthy favorites.
Foods That Lower Cholesterol:
• Olive, avocado, and sunflower oils instead of vegetable oils, margarines, or butter
• Parsnips instead of carrots
• Almond butter instead of peanut butter
• Soba or whole wheat noodles instead of standard white pasta
• Brown rice instead of white rice
• Quinoa instead of white rice
• Lean meats trimmed of visible fat instead of cooking with fat or skin on
• Egg whites instead of whole eggs
• Hummus instead of sour cream dips
• Vegetable chips instead of potato chips
These little changes can have a huge impact on your cholesterol without lowering your good cholesterol or having you make large sacrifices. The meat changes might be the hardest for some people, but it’s not impossible to reduce your intake or give it up.
Factors Associated With High Cholesterol
Diet is the leading contributor of high cholesterol. Foods you eat should nourish your body. If you’re one of many people suffering from high cholesterol, worried about cholesterol, or have heart disease, you might be surprised at the role your daily diet plays. Simple changes like including foods that lower cholesterol can help you achieve optimal health and cholesterol levels.
• Sedentary lifestyle
A low cholesterol diet consists of foods naturally lower in cholesterol. You should aim for no more than 200mg of dietary cholesterol a day if you’re at high risk or currently have heart disease. Speak with your doctor to determine a daily cholesterol intake right for you.
One mistake people can make is to remove cholesterol from their diets completely. Your body needs cholesterol. Side effects can include anxiety, depression, and a possible increase in cancer risk.
A second mistake is ignoring soluble fiber. It prevents your body from absorbing cholesterol.
Foods that lower cholesterol don’t need to be bland or boring. Instead of concentrating on what you can’t eat, focus on all the fun ways you can enjoy food. Experiment with new flavors, foods, and vegetables. Keep your mindset positive because you’re eating for more than your cholesterol, you’re eating for your heart.