Meat Substitutes to Include in Your Cholesterol-Lowering Diet

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Meat is often used as an entrée or as a main ingredient in a lot of dishes, however, it can also introduce additional cholesterol and saturated fat into your heart-healthy diet. This is where substituting meat for a leaner portions of protein can be important in keeping your cholesterol levels in check -- and your heart healthy. The first fear that most people think of when swapping red meat for meat substitutes is that their food will not have the same taste.

However, most of the time, when replacing red meat with other protein, the flavor and texture of the dish is not sacrificed. In fact, the result can be more delicious -- and more healthy -- than the original dish that contained meat. Meat substitutes come in a variety of shapes and forms, ranging from fish to black beans. Try these healthy tips and recipes that help you to include meat substitutes -- and less animal meat -- in your cholesterol-lowering diet:


Poultry is a little leaner than red meat and can serve as a delicious substitute. If you are working with poultry as a protein for your dish, make sure that you trim away any excess fat you may see on your chicken pieces. Leaner pieces of chicken and turkey can be used as a substitute for red meat in casseroles, burgers, soups, and a variety of other dishes. 

Best Practices When Cooking with Poultry


This ancient Chinese food, derived from coagulating soy milk, is an excellent, low-calorie and low-fat food alternative to red meat that is also chock-full of protein.

Tofu’s texture also makes it a delicious – and versatile – meat substitute. Tofu can be prepared in a variety of ways, such as being sautéed, baked, grilled or placed in soups -- but you should be careful about frying tofu, since this may introduce extra fat into your diet, depending upon your cooking methods.


Although you might think of beans as a side item, they can also take center stage as the protein-based entrée of many dishes. Many types of beans can be substituted for meat, including black beans and soybeans. Not only are beans low in fat, they are high in fiber -- which can maintain your digestive health and help keep your cholesterol levels healthy. So the next time you’re in the mood for a steak burger, try making a black bean burger instead. Looking for an alternative to ground beef in your chili? Add kidney beans instead.


Substituting red meat with fish is another way you can add a little more protein to your diet without adding a lot of fat. There are many types of fish you can experiment – all of which can serve as the main course, or be included into foods such as tacos or soup. Consuming some types of fish, such as tuna and salmon, can help introduce more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet – a healthy fat that can help reduce inflammation and lower your triglyceride levels.

Best Practices: Including Fish in Your Cholesterol-Lowering Diet

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