A cholesterol diet menu is followed with the objective of lowering cholesterol naturally. It involves including foods that will lower bad cholesterol and excluding foods that contribute to high cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a fat-like waxy substance that collects in the human arteries and causes them to thicken or get blocked. This reduces, and can even stop the flow of oxygen carrying blood to the heart. Thus, high cholesterol levels are directly proportional to an increased risk of heart attacks.
Cholesterol has two components – LDL i.e., Low Density Lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) which is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries, and HDL i.e., High Density Lipoprotein (good cholesterol) which stops the buildup. A low cholesterol diet menu must include all the foods that help lower LDL, and raise HDL. Once you are aware of what these foods are, it will be fairly easy to draw out a cholesterol diet plan. Here are the foods that should be included in a low cholesterol diet.
Cholesterol Diet Foods List
Oatmeal and Oat Bran
The reason why oatmeal finds a place on all low cholesterol diets is because it contains a soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL). This kind of soluble fiber is found in fruits such as apples, bananas, blackberries (½ cup), oranges, grapefruit, peaches, pears, plums and prunes (¼ cup). It is also present in black beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, northern beans, pinto beans and yellow, green and orange lentils. Chickpeas, black-eyed-peas and half a cup of cooked broccoli, brussels sprouts and carrots are also a good source of soluble fiber. About 1 tablespoon of ground Psyllium seeds have a high content of soluble fiber. Whole grains are also good for heart, so consume whole-grain breads, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat flour and brown rice. Controlling high cholesterol with a diet is possible by incorporating all these foods into a low cholesterol diet menu plan.
Walnuts are another essential ingredient of any diet to control high cholesterol. They are plentiful in polyunsaturated fatty acids and can significantly reduce cholesterol. They also help keep blood vessels healthy and elastic. Other nuts that appear to have the same effect are almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts and pistachio nuts. However, one must not include more than a handful (1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams) of nuts per day in their cholesterol lowering diet menu.
Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fatty fish have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower cholesterol and also improve heart health by lowering high blood pressure and the risk of blood clots. Include two servings of mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna or salmon in your weekly cholesterol diet chart. However, for it to help in keeping with your low cholesterol diet guidelines, you need to bake or grill it. If you don’t like fish, a substitute source of omega-3 fatty acids is ground flaxseed.
Olive and canola are the heart healthy oils. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants which can lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol without affecting “good” (HDL) cholesterol. The recommended amount is about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) a day for maximum benefit. One can use it to substitute their oil they use to cook, add it to a marinade, or drizzle it on a salad. One can use it to saute vegetables, or instead of butter when basting meat. Another recommendation is not to use “light” olive oils.
Foods to be Excluded
Any food that is a source of trans fats needs to be excluded. Thus, fried foods (burgers, fries, chips) and many commercial baked products, such as cookies, crackers and snack cakes are a big no-no. Another factor to be aware of is that in the US, foods containing less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving are labeled “trans fat-free.” To avoid these loopholes, always check the ingredients list. If you find partially hydrogenated oils there, then it needs to go. Other sources laden with cholesterol are organ meats, egg yolks and whole milk products.
Low Cholesterol Menu
Oatmeal with Honey and Apple
- 2 tbsp oat bran
- ½ cup water
- 1 apple chopped
- 2/3 cup fat-free milk
- 1 tsp honey
- 1.5 oz oats (dry rolled oats)
Mix together the oats, water and milk in a pan. Keep stirring until it comes to a boil. Once cooked (in about 5 minutes), drizzle with honey and serve it along with remaining milk, apple and oat bran.
Salmon, Tomato on Toast with Salad
- 3 ¾ oz can salmon, drained
- 1 slice of whole grain bread
- 1 cup salad leaves
- 1 large tomato, sliced
- 1 cup sliced bell pepper
- Lemon juice and black pepper
- 1 bowl of salad
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Remove the salmon from the can, add it to a dish of lemon juice and sprinkle with black pepper. Prepare a salad and add the olive oil and remaining portion of lemon juice to it. Serve salad and salmon with tomato topped slices of toast.
Stir-fried Chicken Breast, Veggies and Rice
- 3 tbsp [dry weight] brown basmati rice
- 4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 sliced red bell pepper
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 small red onion
- 1 cup mushrooms
Make thin long slices of chicken and vegetables. Add the canola oil to a non-stick skillet, heat it mildly and add the garlic. After a minute, add chicken and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on high heat, until it starts to look brown. Add soy sauce and vegetables, and stir fry for 5 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender. Serve the chicken and veggies over cooked rice.
Snacks between meals could be a fruit such as an orange or a handful of almonds. However not more than that as a few dry fruits too, contain some oil in them, hence, over consumption of such food items can also have side effects.
This meal plan is just a sample cholesterol diet menu, since you are aware of the foods to be included and excluded, and your personal preferences, you are well equipped to make your own menu. Picking up a book on cholesterol diet recipes will make your job easier. One last diet tip; include foods fortified with plant sterols or stanols (margarines, orange juice and yogurt drinks) which help block the absorption of cholesterol. If you are wondering how to lower your cholesterol apart from diet, the answer lies in maintaining a healthy weight and daily exercise.