Are you in search of a list of low cholesterol foods (pdf) to improve your heart health?
Cholesterol is a type of fat that can accumulate in the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. Fortunately, there are many delicious and healthy foods that are low in cholesterol.
To make it easier for you to plan your meals, we’ve compiled a low-cholesterol food list in PDF format that you can download and use as a reference.
To help make life even easier, there is also an opportunity to download a FREE printable low cholesterol shopping list too.
- Dietary Cholesterol and Blood Cholesterol
- What Is A Low Cholesterol Diet
- Benefits of A Low Cholesterol Diet
- The Ultimate List of Low Cholesterol Foods
- Quantity of Low Cholesterol Foods
- Low Cholesterol Diet Reflection
- Other Tips For Reducing Cholesterol Intake
- Low Cholesterol Substitutions
- Low Cholesterol Diet One Day Meal Plan
- Low Cholesterol Shopping List
- Other Ways to Manage Cholesterol
- Final Thoughts
Dietary Cholesterol and Blood Cholesterol
First, it’s important to understand the difference between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol.
They are two different things that are related to each other in a complex way.
Blood cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver that is carried in the bloodstream by lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
LDL cholesterol is often called “unhealthy” cholesterol because it can build up in the walls of arteries and form plaques, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is often called “healthy” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream and transport it back to the liver, where it can be broken down and excreted from the body.
Dietary cholesterol, on the other hand, is a type of fat found in animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy products.
When we eat foods that contain cholesterol, our body absorbs it and adds it to the pool of cholesterol in the body. However, dietary cholesterol has a relatively small impact on blood cholesterol levels for most people.
In fact, research has shown that the amount of cholesterol in the diet has less of an effect on blood cholesterol levels than the types of fats we eat.
What Is A Low Cholesterol Diet
Since the amount of cholesterol we eat has less of an effect on blood cholesterol levels than the types of fats we eat, it’s important to consider the types of fats we eat.
Reducing the LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream is best done but eating low amount of saturated and trans fat, eating more healthy unsaturated fats. These are the main principles of a low cholesterol diet (1).
Benefits of A Low Cholesterol Diet
A low cholesterol diet can provide numerous benefits for overall health and well-being (1).
Reduced Risk Of Heart Disease
High levels of cholesterol in the blood can contribute to the development of heart disease, which is a leading cause of death worldwide. By following a low cholesterol diet, individuals can reduce their risk of developing heart disease and improve their overall heart health.
Improved Blood Pressure
High cholesterol levels can also contribute to high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health complications. By reducing cholesterol intake, individuals may also see improvements in their blood pressure levels.
A low cholesterol diet often emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods that are lower in calories than processed, high-fat foods. This can make it easier to manage weight and maintain a healthy body weight.
Lower Risk Of Stroke
High cholesterol levels can increase the risk of stroke, which can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. By reducing cholesterol intake, individuals may be able to lower their risk of stroke.
Improved Overall Health
A low cholesterol diet is typically rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other nutrient-dense foods, which can provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support overall health and well-being.
By incorporating a variety of low-cholesterol foods into the diet and reducing intake of high-cholesterol and high-fat foods, individuals can reap these and other benefits of a low cholesterol diet.
The Ultimate List of Low Cholesterol Foods
Here are some examples of foods that are low in cholesterol and good for your heart health. At the end of this section you will be able to download the list of low cholesterol foods in pdf format (1).
Fruits and Vegetables
These foods are naturally low in cholesterol and high in fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol levels. Aim for a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens, berries, citrus fruits, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
Whole grains are a good source of fiber and other nutrients, and they can help lower cholesterol levels. Examples of whole grains include whole wheat, oats, brown rice, quinoa, and barley.
Choosing lean proteins like chicken, fish, turkey, and plant-based proteins like beans and lentils can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce cholesterol levels.
Nuts and Seeds
These foods are high in healthy fats, fiber, and other nutrients that can improve heart health. Examples include almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.
Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt can be a good source of protein and other nutrients, but they can also be high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Choose low-fat or fat-free options to keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Download your printable list of low cholesterol foods here.
Quantity of Low Cholesterol Foods
Looking to eating patterns that can lower cholesterol, the main diets that come to mind are the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, the Portfolio diet and the MIND diet.
Since the Mediterranean diet has the most extensive research behind it, I will use this dietary pattern going forward to provide an idea of how much of these foods should be eaten each day (2).
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods and lifestyle habits of people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It emphasizes whole, plant-based foods, healthy fats, and lean proteins, and has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including improved heart health and reduced risk of chronic diseases.
While there is no set rule for how often to consume each food group on the Mediterranean diet, here are some general guidelines:
Fruits and Vegetables
Aim for 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Include a variety of colors, and try to include both raw and cooked vegetables.
Choose whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, barley flakes, whole wheat bread, and whole grain pasta. Aim for 2-3 servings per day.
Use olive oil as your main cooking oil, and include other sources of healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon. Aim for 2-3 servings of healthy fats per day.
Include lean proteins like chicken, turkey, fish, and legumes. Aim for 2-3 servings of lean protein per day.
Choose low-fat or fat-free options like Greek yogurt and skim milk. Aim for 1-2 servings of dairy per day.
Remember that these are general guidelines, and everyone’s nutritional needs are different. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine what dietary plan is best for you.
Low Cholesterol Diet Reflection
It’s time for a reflection. Use the following summary of low cholesterol diet sheet to rate your intake to see where you are doing well, and what you can improve going forward.
Then download the low cholesterol diet sheet (pdf) to help make that happen.
|Food Group||Servings Per Day||Yes||Sometimes||No|
|Fruits and Vegetables||7-10 servings (at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit)|
|Whole Grains||6-7 servings (1 serving = 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup of cooked grains, or 1 ounce of dry cereal)|
|Healthy Fats||4-6 servings (1 serving = 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 avocado, 1/4 cup of nuts or seeds)|
|Lean Proteins||2-3 servings (1 serving = 3 ounces of fish, poultry, or lean meat, or 1/2 cup of legumes)|
|Dairy||1-2 servings (1 serving = 1 cup of milk or yogurt)|
Additionally, you can use this table to keep track of your daily intake of each food group.
Simply tally up the number of servings you consumed for each food group.
Remember, these are general guidelines and may vary depending on your individual needs and preferences. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine the best dietary plan for you.
Other Tips For Reducing Cholesterol Intake
Choose Lean Protein Sources
Opt for lean cuts of meat, skinless poultry, fish, beans, lentils, and tofu as protein sources. These options are generally lower in saturated and trans fats, which can contribute to high cholesterol levels.
Cook With Healthy Oils
Use heart-healthy oils like olive, avocado, or canola oil instead of butter or other high-fat cooking oils. These oils are rich in unsaturated fats, which can help improve cholesterol levels.
Increase Fiber Intake
Choose whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds as sources of dietary fiber. Soluble fiber, in particular, can help lower LDL cholesterol levels by binding to cholesterol in the digestive tract and preventing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Limit High-fat Processed Foods
Avoid or limit intake of high-fat processed foods like fast food, fried foods, and processed snacks. These foods are often high in saturated and trans fats, which can contribute to high cholesterol levels.
Choose Low-fat Dairy Products
Choose low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt instead of full-fat versions. These options are lower in saturated and trans fats and can help reduce cholesterol intake.
Limit Intake Of Animal Products
While animal products can be a good source of protein, they can also be high in cholesterol and saturated fats. Limit intake of red meat, processed meat, and high-fat dairy products. Choose plant protein like beans, legumes and tofu more often.
Snack On Healthy Options
Choose snacks that are low in saturated and trans fats, such as fresh fruit, vegetables with hummus, or air-popped popcorn. Avoid processed snacks like chips and cookies.
Watch Portion Sizes
Overeating can lead to weight gain, which can contribute to high cholesterol levels. Use smaller plates, bowls, and cups to help control portion sizes.
Use Healthy Cooking Methods
Choose cooking methods that don’t add extra fat, such as baking, broiling, grilling, or steaming. Reduce frying or sautéing in butter or other unhealthy fats.
Experiment With Plant-based Meals
Plant-based meals can be a great source of protein and are typically low in cholesterol and saturated fat. Experiment with vegetarian or vegan meals a few times a week to help reduce cholesterol intake.
Eat More Fiber
Foods high in soluble fiber, such as oatmeal, barley, fruits, and vegetables, can help lower cholesterol levels. Aim to eat at least 25-30 grams of fiber per day.
Consistency is key when it comes to managing cholesterol levels. Stick to a healthy diet and lifestyle plan, and make it a long-term commitment for lasting results.
Low Cholesterol Substitutions
In order to start eating low cholesterol meals, try these meal swaps.
- Use avocado on toast instead of butter in sandwiches. Avocado is a great source of healthy fats and can help lower cholesterol levels.
- Substitute lean proteins, such as chicken or fish, for red meat in your meals. This can reduce your intake of saturated fat and lower your risk of heart disease.
- Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in dips and sauces. Greek yogurt is lower in fat and higher in protein than sour cream, and it adds a tangy flavor to your dishes.
- Swap out processed snacks like chips and crackers for fresh fruits or vegetables. These are nutrient-dense options that can help lower your risk of heart disease.
- Instead of using store-bought salad dressings, make your own vinaigrette with olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice. This can help you avoid added sugars and unhealthy fats found in many commercial dressings.
- Choose whole-grain breads and pastas instead of white, refined versions. Whole grains are a great source of fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Replace sugary drinks with water or unsweetened tea. Sugary drinks can increase your risk of heart disease, while water and tea can help keep you hydrated and promote heart health.
- Choose soy milk instead of whole or 2% milk when ordering a latte or coffee. Soy milk is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than dairy milk, and it is a great source of plant-based protein. Be sure to choose unsweetened soy milk to avoid added sugars.
- Switch out deli meat sandwiches for canned salmon sandwiches. Canned salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and improve heart health. Mix canned salmon with mashed avocado or hummus for a delicious and heart-healthy sandwich filling. Remember to choose canned salmon that is low in sodium and packed in water or its own juices to avoid added salt and unhealthy fats.
- Choose oatmeal for breakfast instead of high-sugar cold cereals. Oatmeal is a great source of fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Add fresh fruit or a spoonful of nut butter for added flavor and nutrition. Remember to choose plain oatmeal instead of pre-packaged flavored varieties that may contain added sugars. You can also prepare overnight oats for a convenient and healthy breakfast option.
Remember, small changes to your diet can add up to big benefits for your heart health. Consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized advice and guidance on making heart-healthy meal swaps.
Low Cholesterol Diet One Day Meal Plan
Breakfast: Oatmeal made with soy milk. Topped with sliced banana, hemp seeds, and chopped walnuts.
Snack: A Smoothie To Lower Cholesterol.
Lunch: Tofu bolognese with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and a cherry vinaigrette dressing.
Snack: Carrot sticks with hummus.
Dinner: Baked lemon ginger salmon with lemon and herbs. Served with a roasted sweet potatoes and Kale Apple Slaw With Creamy Dressing.
Dessert: Fresh fruit salad (mixed berries, kiwi, mango) or Chocolate Covered Chickpeas.
Remember, this is just one example of a low-cholesterol meal plan. It’s important to vary your meals and incorporate a wide variety of healthy foods to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs. Speak with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine the best dietary plan for your individual needs.
Low Cholesterol Shopping List
If you’ve downloaded your pintable low cholesterol food list, don’t forget to also download this low cholesterol shopping list (PDF).
This food list is similar to 39 foods to unclog arteries, 39 foods to lower blood pressure and Printable Anti Inflammatory Food List (PDF)
Other Ways to Manage Cholesterol
In addition to following a low cholesterol diet, there are several lifestyle modifications that can help manage cholesterol levels (1).
Regular physical activity can help improve cholesterol levels by increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol and decreasing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
Smoking can contribute to the development of high cholesterol levels and heart disease. Quitting smoking can help improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Chronic stress can contribute to high cholesterol levels and other health problems. Engaging in stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can help manage stress and improve cholesterol levels.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Drinking too much alcohol can contribute to high cholesterol levels and other health problems. Limiting alcohol can help manage cholesterol levels.
By incorporating these lifestyle modifications in addition to a low cholesterol diet, individuals can better manage their cholesterol levels and improve their overall health and well-being.
Set Small Goals
Setting small, achievable goals can be a great way to reduce cholesterol intake and improve overall health.
Instead of making drastic changes to your diet and lifestyle, start with small, manageable changes that you can stick to. For example, try replacing one unhealthy snack with a healthier option each day.
Keep track of your progress towards your goals. This can help you stay motivated and see the positive changes that are happening.
Celebrate small successes along the way. This can help you stay motivated and make it easier to achieve your long-term goals.
Make It A Habit
Incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine. This can help make them feel like second nature and easier to stick to over time.
Stay positive and don’t get discouraged if you slip up. Remember that making small, consistent changes is key to long-term success.
If you haven’t yet, remember to download the list of low cholesterol foods (PDF).
I’m hoping this article provides context about why these foods should be included to help lower your cholesterol levels for good!