How to eat a low cholesterol diet for a healthy heart

Although cholesterol is often demonized, our bodies need some cholesterol to perform normal functions. Cholesterol is a precursor to the manufacture of certain hormones, it is necessary for the production of vitamin D, and it is an important structural component of the cell membrane of almost every type of cell in the body. However, many people suffer from excessively high cholesterol levels, called hyperlipidemia, which is associated with an increased risk of diseases such as atherosclerosis and heart disease, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.


Some of the risk factors for high cholesterol are out of your control. For example, there is definitely a genetic component to high cholesterol because the amount produced and the rate at which LDL cholesterol is removed in your body is determined in part by your genes. However, the good news is that there are lifestyle modifications and practices that can reduce and control your cholesterol, the most important being a low-cholesterol diet. The Low Cholesterol Diet isn’t as easy as it sounds, so keep reading for the complete Low Cholesterol Diet guide and start taking steps toward lowering your cholesterol today.

types of cholesterol

Cholesterol is produced naturally in the liver. There are several different types or classifications of cholesterol based on the properties of the molecules, but there are basically two. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol actually helps remove excess LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream, while high LDL cholesterol increases the risk of atherosclerosis, or atherosclerosis and plaque buildup, along with heart disease and other vascular diseases.

What is a low cholesterol diet?

Broccoli bowl.

The term “low cholesterol diet” can be a bit misleading because it sounds like a diet that is low in dietary cholesterol or eliminates foods that contain cholesterol. However, while foods high in cholesterol such as red meat, cheese, eggs, full-fat dairy products, butter, snack cakes, ice cream, oysters, commercial fried foods, and organ meats, they should be avoided when following a low-cholesterol diet. The real diet culprits in terms of high cholesterol levels are actually trans fats and saturated fats. Accordingly, a low-cholesterol diet eliminates all trans fats and avoids saturated fats as much as possible. Finally, you should also limit sugar—particularly corn syrup and added sugars—as excess sugar can be converted into triglycerides.

Although there are no strict rules when it comes to the rules of a low-cholesterol diet, most low-cholesterol diets limit total cholesterol intake to 200 mg per day, ban all trans fats, and limit saturated fat intake to a maximum of 7 percent of Total daily calories. For example, on a 2,000-calorie diet, you should consume no more than 14 calories from saturated fat, or about 15 grams. Focus on eating whole, natural foods and getting 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

Benefits of a low cholesterol diet

Avocado toast with basil, lentils and sliced ​​tomatoes.

Since high cholesterol can increase the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease, a low cholesterol diet can lead to the following benefits:

  • Decreased total cholesterol
  • Lower bad cholesterol
  • Weight loss
  • Reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes
  • Improve diet quality
  • Increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, especially when combined with exercise and diet

Foods to avoid when following a low-cholesterol diet

Sausages and cold meats.

Since trans fats and saturated fats are associated with increased levels of LDL cholesterol, and excessive cholesterol intake also appears to contribute to the problem, it should be limited. Note that trans fats are hydrogenated oils that are added to foods to improve stability and that saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are mostly found in animal products. The following foods are particularly high in trans fats, saturated fats, and/or cholesterol and should be avoided when following a low cholesterol diet:

  • Fast food: Burgers, anything fried, french fries, breakfast sandwiches with sausage, donuts, chicken nuggets, pizza, Chinese fast food, tacos, onion rings, etc.
  • Snacks: Baked snacks, ham rinds, combos, potato chips, jeffy pops, tater tots, packaged cookies, toasted pretzels, candy, white chocolate, milk chocolate, anything with cream or frosting, pepperoni, cheese dips, etc.
  • Processed meat: Lunch meat, cold cuts, sausages, bacon, sausages, etc.
  • Meat / some shellfish: It’s okay to use lean cuts, but avoid fatty beef, veal, lamb, pork, lobsters, and shrimp.
  • Frozen dinners: Frozen pizza, frozen entrees, frozen prepared lasagna, frozen Chinese food dishes, frozen pot pies, etc.
  • Full-fat dairy products: Cream, whole milk, 2% milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream, gelato, creamer, pudding, half and half, etc.
  • Some bread products: Canned and prepared biscuits and croissants, pies, cookies, muffins, snack cakes, muffins, biscuits, oiled granola, danish, tortillas, sweetened cereals, etc.
  • Sauces and seasonings: Mayonnaise, creamy salad dressings, that is, salad dressings with hydrogenated oils, broths, jelly and sweetened jams, chocolate syrup, pancake syrup, etc.
  • Drinks: Eggnog, full cream coconut milk, chocolate milk, shakes, smoothies, soda, etc.
  • Restaurant food: Ribs, fatty cuts of pork or beef, burgers, steaks, stir-fries, etc.
  • Fats and oils: Butter, margarine, olive oil, lard, lard, bacon fat, coconut oil, etc.
  • sugary foods: Avoid any sweets or sugary foods as much as possible because excess sugar can turn into triglycerides.

Foods to eat on a low cholesterol diet

Cauliflower foods are low in cholesterol.

A low-cholesterol diet should include as many healthy, unprocessed, whole foods as possible such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, legumes, low-fat dairy products, and seeds. Unsaturated oils such as olive oil and avocado oil should be used instead of saturated fats or canola oil. Nuts and seeds may help raise your good HDL levels, and although eggs contain cholesterol, there is evidence to suggest they won’t negatively affect your cholesterol levels. However, reduce the egg yolk to 2-3 per week but enjoy the egg white as often as you like.

Here are some foods to eat when following a low cholesterol diet:

  • Vegetables: Fresh or frozen kale, spinach, carrots, lettuce, Swiss chard, broccoli, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, cauliflower, asparagus, sweet potatoes, beets, squash, onions, etc. Avoid vegetables canned in creamy sauces such as spinach or cream corn.
  • the fruit: Pear, apple, watermelon, orange, grapefruit, peach, apricot, peach, raspberry, banana, pomegranate, kiwi, tomato, orange, etc.
  • Whole grains and bread products: Unprocessed whole oats, whole wheat, barley, brown rice, quinoa, teff, farro, etc.; Pasta, bread, oatmeal, healthy cereal, etc.
  • Lean meat, poultry and fish: Fresh or frozen beef, bison, venison, chicken, turkey, salmon, scallops, tofu, halibut, cod, etc.
  • Low-fat dairy products: Skimmed milk, 1% milk, low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, low-fat cheese, etc.
  • Legumes: Dry or canned beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, soybeans, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, pecans, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, etc.
  • Fats and oils: Olive oil, avocado, flaxseed oil, etc.
  • Herbs and spices: Basil, thyme, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, rosemary, cumin, chili powder, etc.
  • Drinks: Water, tea (herbal tea, green tea, black tea, etc.), red wine, coffee.

Low cholesterol diet plan template

A healthy salad with tomatoes and arugula.

Curious what a day to eat on a low-cholesterol diet would look like?

Low cholesterol diet plan template

  • breakfast: A green smoothie made with bananas, spinach, almond butter, fat-free Greek yogurt, frozen berries, and chia seeds.
  • lunch: Veggie burger on a whole grain bun topped with lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Pick up the peas on the side.
  • Snack: Hummus with carrots, cucumber, pepper slices and celery.
  • Dinner: Miso-marinated salmon, roasted brussels sprouts and brown rice. Side salad with lemon juice.
  • Snack: Fat-free Greek yogurt with berries, flax seeds and walnuts.

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