Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance naturally found in all of our body’s cells. Too much of it, however, can clog our arteries and contribute to a host of problems, including heart disease and heart attack. Our body makes cholesterol on its own, but we also take it in in the foods we eat. Cholesterol is found in foods from animal sources, including meat and dairy.
High-cholesterol foods have a high amount of saturated and trans fats, including red meat, butter and cheese. Foods that list “partially hydrogenated oil” as an ingredient are also high in cholesterol and trans fats and should be avoided. Low cholesterol foods are rich in fiber and the “good” kind of fats –monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that help our bodies function at their best.
Whether you’re looking to actively lower your cholesterol or just practice prevention, our low cholesterol shopping list below is your roadmap to dietary success. If you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, it’s important to see a doctor regularly as diet alone may not be enough to keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Fish, especially fatty-fish, like salmon, herring, tuna, sardines, and mackerel contain Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty-acids can help raise your HDL, which is your good cholesterol. Try one, or all, of these yummy, heart-healthy recipes:
Turkey is not only loaded with protein, but it’s also extremely low in saturated fat. It contains a nutrient called Taurine, which has been found to decrease the overall risk of heart disease. Another benefit to ground turkey is that it is packaged with a nutritional label, allowing you to see the specific, saturated fat content.
Try our tasty, Ground Turkey and Sweet Potato Skillet.
If your goal is to improve your cholesterol levels, you’ll want to ditch the yolk. With that being said, egg whites contain almost no saturated fat, and are a great source of protein.
This Mediterranean Egg White Frittata is loaded with clean-ingredients that are good for your health!
Tofu, Tempeh, & Seitan
If you’re craving a more hearty dish, you might want to consider using one of these heart-healthy, protein alternatives. Foods like tofu, tempeh, and seitan can go a long way to improving your cholesterol. Whether you’re a hardcore tofu lover, or someone that has never considered it before, you’re in for a treat with these delicious recipes!
Oats can work wonders on your body’s LDL levels—that’s the bad kind of cholesterol. Start the day with a bowl of oatmeal, like our Slow Cooker Creamy Almond Oatmeal.
This increasingly-popular grain can significantly decrease bad cholesterol, due to it’s high soluble fiber content. Try these scrumptious, barley-rich dishes:
Bulgur is another grain that excels when it comes to improving cholesterol. This high-fiber ingredient blocks the absorption of cholesterol, decreasing LDL levels.
Try this recipe that combines several heart-healthy foods: Herbed Salmon with Broccoli Bulgur Pilaf
We all love Quinoa! I mean, how could you not? It’s low in carbohydrates, contains a considerable amount of protein, and is loaded with fiber, helping to improve cholesterol!
Try our Quinoa Apple Breakfast Bowl on the next chilly morning!
Brown rice is a staple in the “diet” world, but that doesn’t mean it always has to be bland! As you will see in the recipe below, there are ways to make this high-fiber food, extremely enjoyable.
Try this Creamy Brown Rice, Apple, and Broccoli Salad for lunch!
Fruits like apples, pears, whole citrus, and bananas contain a high amount of soluble fiber, which is great for cleaning sticky bad cholesterol out of your system. Top your oatmeal with a serving of sliced bananas for a one-two punch to fight cholesterol. You may also enjoy:
- Fruit Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
- Spinach, Pear, and Walnut Salad
- Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats
In addition to its well-known nutritious properties, spinach contains the secret ingredient Lutein, which helps artery walls ward off cholesterol. Enjoy fresh spinach in:
- Spinach and Bean Burrito Wrap
- Roasted Pear Sandwich with Baby Spinach
- Artichoke and Spinach Penne Casserole
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, which lower LDL and raise HDL—the perfect cholesterol-friendly combination.
Try starting your day with our Avocado Breakfast Toast made with a hearty oat bread.
Later on, enjoy an Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich for lunch.
This potent herb not only adds flavor to a dish, it helps lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. It works by preventing tiny cholesterol particles from sticking to the walls of your arteries. You’ll love our:
Black, kidney, and pinto beans are packed with fiber, which has been shown to help lower your overall cholesterol absorption.
Try our Skinny Quinoa with Black Beans for a powerful mix of two super foods in one.
Recent studies have found that this legume is highly-effective at lowering cholesterol levels. This is widely due to the fact that chickpeas are high in heart-healthy protein, phytosterols, and soluble fiber.
If you’re looking for a cholesterol-friendly snack, try these Roasted Chickpeas.
This is another legume with promising, cholesterol-lowering abilities. Much like beans and chickpeas, lentils are high in protein as well as soluble fiber. Replacing meat with any of these legumes can significantly impact cholesterol levels in a positive way.
Try our protein-rich Easy Vegetarian Quinoa Chili with Lentils. It contains just 1 gram of saturated fat, per serving!
Nuts, Seeds, & Oils
This food can help you lower your cholesterol naturally; walnuts, cashews and almonds are the best kind. Just be sure to practice portion control, since nuts are also high in calories, per serving.
Try our yummy Dark Chocolate Nut Clusters, which combine two of the low-cholesterol foods on this list.
Various seeds, including flax, hemp, sunflower, and chia seeds, have been found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Get your daily fiber and Omega-3’s from these yummy morsels!
Make this Blueberry, Mint, and Flax Seed Smoothie the next time you need an on-the-go breakfast!
This heart-healthy fat is a staple in many of our SkinnyMs. recipes, and lucky for those watching their cholesterol, it also helps lower LDL levels. Besides being good for you, check out these 50 Other Uses for Olive Oil.
Other Cholesterol-Lowering Options
Mmmm, that’s sweet news! Dark, bittersweet chocolate helps boost your body’s HDL. Feeling like something creamy and decadent? Try:
- Chocolate Banana Bread with Hot Fudge Sauce
- Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter and Banana Pops
- Cherry Chocolate Trifle
No, this isn’t a cruel joke. Red wine can increase HDL levels and, due to it’s polyphenol antioxidants, decrease LDL! As with anything else, it should be consumed in moderation.
Do you already eat a lot of these low cholesterol foods? Are there any you’re going to begin incorporating into your diet? Let us know in the comment section, below!