A Low-Cholesterol Food List for Your New Diet

Add colorful and flavorful foods to your cholesterol-friendly diet

Low Cholesterol Foods
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You can begin a cholesterol-friendly diet by reviewing the low-cholesterol food list. Thankfully, a low-cholesterol diet requires adding many foods to your daily routine, not just abstaining from foods that are unhealthy. A low-cholesterol diet can be full of colorful and flavorful foods and there are no restrictions on the salt-free spices you can use to make your meals exciting.

As with any diet, be certain to consult your physician for specific dietary guidelines.

Your requirements may exclude some of these foods. Print this handy list and take it with you to the grocery store and try something new and healthy.

Fruits and Vegetables

Many fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins and fiber.

  • Vegetables: fresh, canned, or frozen—without added fat, sauce, or salt. All vegetables are cholesterol-friendly. Especially, choose dark, leafy green vegetables (such as broccoli, kale, and spinach) and deep orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, acorn and butternut squash).
  • Fruit: fresh, frozen, canned, or dried—without added sugar. Enjoy whole fruit in preference to fruit juice so you get the benefits of the fiber.
  • Healthy soups: tomato, vegetable, chicken, minestrone (choose low sodium when possible)

Whole Grains and Nuts

  • Whole-wheat, rye and pumpernickel bread, whole-wheat tortillas and bagels
  • Whole-grain cereals such as those that are oat, bran, or rice-based
  • Oats and oat bran are recommended as sources of soluble fiber.
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, chia seeds, and ground flaxseeds are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds and walnuts are sources of beneficial plant sterols.

Beans and Vegetable-Protein Foods

  • Tofu, tempeh, soy/vegetable burgers. These are good sources of soluble fiber.
  • Dried peas and beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, soybeans, lentils, vegetarian baked beans. These are excellent sources of fiber and protein.

Eggs and Meat

  • Egg whites and egg substitute
  • Lean meats: sirloin, chuck, loin and round. Choose "choice" or "select" grades rather than "prime." Choose lean or extra-lean ground meats
  • Skinless turkey and chicken: choose light meat over dark meat

Fish and Seafood

  • Fish: especially salmon, trout, sardines, albacore tuna, and herring as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Also enjoy tuna, mackerel, halibut, tilapia, and cod. Eat at least two servings of fish each week.
  • Seafood: clams, crab, oysters, lobster, scallops. Note that shrimp and crawfish are higher in cholesterol but they are lower in total fat and saturated fat than most meats and poultry, so are a better choice.

Dairy Products

  • Skim (nonfat) or 1 percent milk and low-fat or non-fat evaporated or condensed milk for cooking
  • Low-fat or non-fat dairy products such as cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, ice cream, and yogurts
  • Whey protein powder is beneficial for cholesterol and a good choice to add to smoothies for protein.

Desserts and Snacks

  • Fresh fruits (Note that grapefruit can interact with many cholesterol-lowering medications and should be avoided. Ask your physician if grapefruit is appropriate for you.)
  • Lite air-popped or microwave popcorn
  • Fat-free or non-fat sherbet or sorbet
  • Low-fat angel food cake
  • Low-fat cookies, such as animal crackers, fig bars, ginger snaps, molasses cookies, graham crackers. Look for labels that indicate no trans fat.
  • Baked potato chips
  • All-fruit snack bars
  • Gelatin

A Word From Verywell

Although some foods may be more advised for a cholesterol-lowering diet than others, calories are calories, and they can add up whether you're eating healthy foods or junkier options. Be sure to be mindful as you plan your diet.

Sources:

Cholesterol-Lowering: Heart-Healthy Strategies. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/cholesterol-lowering-strategies.

Cooking to Lower Cholesterol. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Cooking-To-Lower-Cholesterol_UCM_305630_Article.jsp#.WU5ReWjyvmY.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. US Department of Agriculture. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/a-closer-look-inside-healthy-eating-patterns/.

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