Would you like a weekly meal plan for high cholesterol? It’s not the easiest thing to live with, but there are ways to make it better. Good news! Going on a diet to lower your level of cholesterol doesn’t mean that you can eat anything you want, although you do need to make sure you eat healthy foods. Here are some tips for inexperienced eaters who want to start on a high cholesterol diet.
7-Day Meal Plan & Recipe Prep to Lower Cholesterol
We think there isn’t a single, universal strategy for leading a healthy lifestyle. Individualized eating programs that take into account the full person are necessary for success. Consult a healthcare professional or a trained dietitian before beginning a new diet plan, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
It goes without saying that nutrition and health are closely related. But making food decisions is not always simple, especially if you are trying to achieve a specific health objective, like lowering your cholesterol. Having a go-to meal plan is crucial for achieving any goal.
No matter what your nutritional objectives are, meal planning can help you stay on target. Planning and preparation don’t have to take a lot of time or be difficult. Meal planning can be a useful tool to help you stay energized, fulfill your nutritional objectives, avoid food waste, and save money. These simple procedures include creating a shopping list, buying wisely, and meticulously preparing food ahead of time.
Why Nutrition Is Important to Lower Cholesterol
Cholesterol is required by your body to create vitamin D, some hormones, and cell membranes. However, your liver produces all the cholesterol required for these activities. Consuming foods high in saturated fat—such as high-fat red meat, butter, whole-fat dairy products, and trans fat—increases the creation of cholesterol.
It’s noteworthy to note that several types of research have been done to support cutting off whole fat dairy consumption to lower blood cholesterol. According to certain data, whole fat milk may not always have a harmful impact on blood cholesterol levels.
Too much cholesterol in the blood can form plaque when it combines with minerals and other chemicals. Your blood vessels’ walls become stuck with plaque, which restricts or stops the flow of blood.
One of the main ways to lower cholesterol is to eat a balanced, heart-healthy diet. The DASH eating plan and the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) eating plan, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), can help decrease cholesterol.
These diets advocate eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish like salmon and tuna as well as more foods high in healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Additionally, you should pick foods that are low in cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium.
7-Day Sample Menu
This one-week meal plan is intended to decrease cholesterol and is low in total fat and saturated fat for someone who needs 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day. Remember that your daily calorie target may change. Discover what it is, then modify the strategy to suit your unique requirements. To better correctly analyze and plan for your dietary needs, you might also want to think about working with a certified dietitian or talking with another healthcare professional.
How Active Are You?
You will discover three meals and two snacks with a balanced diet of protein, carbs, and fats in the following meal plan. The meals provide plenty of fiber and good fats without having too much salt, cholesterol, saturated fat, or trans fat. They also include nutrient-dense foods from all the food groups.
Items in the meal plan may be substituted as long as they are comparable. For instance, you may swap out grilled chicken for grilled pork chops or low-fat cow’s milk for almond milk. However, you might not want to swap fried chicken for grilled chicken or whole milk for low-fat milk because doing so alters the nutrition facts by increasing the amount of calories, fat, and sodium.
Download the 7-Day Meal Plan to Lower Cholesterol
- 1 cup of oatmeal
- 1 cup of low-fat (1%) milk
- 1 medium banana
Macronutrients: approximately 374 calories, 15 grams of protein, 67 grams of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of fat.
- Tuna sandwich made with olive oil in a whole-wheat pita (Mix 3 ounces low-sodium albacore canned tuna and 1 tablespoon olive oil.)
- 2 cups of mixed greens topped with 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette
- 7 ounces of low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 cup of blueberries
Macronutrients: approximately 804 calories, 52 grams of protein, 74 grams of carbohydrates and 36 grams of fat.
- 3 cups Herb-seasoned, air-popped popcorn
Macronutrients: approximately 91 calories, 3 grams of protein, 19 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of fat
- 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast
- 2 cups of roasted broccoli
- 1 medium baked sweet potato
Macronutrients: approximately 518 calories, 45 grams of protein, 46 grams of carbohydrates, and 19 grams of fat
- 1/2 cup of fruit sorbet
Macronutrients: approximately 117 calories, 0 grams of protein, 31 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of fat
Daily totals: approximately 1,813 calories, 115 grams of protein, 218 grams of carbohydrates, and 62 grams of fat.
Note that beverages are not included in this meal plan. Individual fluid needs vary based on age, sex, activity level, and medical history. For optimal hydration, experts generally recommend drinking approximately 9 cups of water per day for women and 13 cups of water per day for men. When adding beverages to your meal plan, consider their calorie count. Try to reduce or eliminate consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and opt for water when possible.
- One hard-boiled egg
- Two slices of whole-wheat toast with 1/4 avocado
- One medium orange
Macronutrients: approximately 381 calories, 8 grams of protein, 66 grams of carbohydrates, and 11 grams of fat
- Grilled chicken salad (3 ounces of chicken, 2 cups of lettuce, two thick slices of tomato, four cucumber slices, 1/2 cup of black beans, and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette dressing)
- 1 medium apple
Macronutrients: approximately 452 calories, 34 grams of protein, 57 grams of carbohydrates, and 12 grams of fat
- 8 whole-grain crackers
- 1/4 cup of hummus
Macronutrients: approximately 257 calories, 9 grams of protein, 34 grams of carbohydrates, and 11 grams of fat
- 4 ounces of broiled salmon
- 1 cup of brown rice
- 2 cups of green beans with garlic
Macronutrients: approximately 539 calories, 34 grams of protein, 66 grams of carbohydrates, and 16 grams of fat
- 7-ounces low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
- 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
Macronutrients: approximately 390 calories, 25 grams of protein, 25 grams of carbohydrates, and 23 grams of fat
Daily Totals: approximately 2,019 calories, 110 grams of protein, 248 grams of carbohydrates, and 73 grams of fat
- 1 cup whole-grain, unsweetened, ready-to-eat cereal
- 1 cup low-fat (1%) milk
- 1 medium peach
Macronutrients: approximately 266 calories, 13 grams of protein, 47 grams of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of fat
- Turkey sandwich (3 ounces of turkey, two slices of whole wheat bread, lettuce, tomatoes, 1 teaspoon mustard)
- 1 ounce pretzels
- 1 1/2 ounces shelled walnut halves
Macronutrients: approximately 597 calories, 27 grams of protein, 55 grams of carbohydrates, and 30 grams of fat
- 1 medium banana
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
Macronutrients: approximately 293 calories, 8 grams of protein, 35 grams of carbohydrates, and 16 grams of fat
- 3 ounces grilled sirloin steak
- 1 medium baked potato with 1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 cup grilled summer squash
Macronutrients: approximately 475 calories, 36 grams of protein, 45 grams of carbohydrates, and 18 grams of fat
- 1 1/2 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup of sliced grape tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Macronutrients: approximately 288 calories, 11 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbohydrates, and 23 grams of fat
Daily Totals: approximately 1,918 calories, 95 grams of protein, 191 grams of carbohydrates, and 93 grams of fat
- English muffin egg sandwich (one cooked egg, one slice Swiss cheese, one whole wheat English muffin toasted)
- Unsweetened cappuccino made with one cup of low-fat milk
Macronutrients: approximately 455 calories, 26 grams of protein, 40 grams of carbohydrates, and 21 grams of fat
- Veggie burger (one 70-gram veggie patty with about 120 calories, one 6 1/2-inch 100% whole-wheat pita, lettuce, tomato, 2 teaspoons mayonnaise)
- 1 cup roasted red potatoes
Macronutrients: approximately 573 calories, 25 grams of protein, 74 grams of carbohydrates, and 21 grams of fat
- 1 1/2 ounces mixed nuts
- 1 cup of blueberries
Macronutrients: approximately 337 calories, 8 grams of protein, 32 grams of carbohydrates, and 22 grams of fat
- One serving of vegetarian spinach lasagna
- Large mixed green salad (3 cups mixed lettuce greens, 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette)
Macronutrients: approximately 482 calories, 22 grams of protein, 44 grams of carbohydrates, and 25 grams of fat
- 1 cup whole-grain, unsweetened, ready-to-eat cereal
- 1 cup low-fat milk
Macronutrients: approximately 208 calories, 12 grams of protein, 33 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of fat
Daily Totals: approximately 2,056 calories, 92 grams of protein, 222 grams of carbohydrates, and 94 grams of fat
- 1 medium high-fiber muffin
- One medium banana
Macronutrients: approximately 410 calories, 9 grams of protein, 82 grams of carbohydrates, and 8 grams of fat
- Black bean burrito (1/4 cup mashed black beans, 1 1/2 ounces shredded low-sodium Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa, one 100% eight-inch whole-wheat tortilla)
- 1 medium apple
Macronutrients: approximately 474 calories, 14 grams of protein, 83 grams of carbohydrates, and 12 grams of fat
- 16-ounce iced vanilla latte made with low-fat milk
- 1 ounce walnut halves
- 0.5-ounce raisins
Macronutrients: approximately 338 calories, 10 grams of protein, 46 grams of carbohydrates, and 10 grams of fat
- 3 ounces roasted pork chop
- 1 cup of greens beans with lemon and garlic
- 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
Macronutrients: approximately 401 calories, 28 grams of protein, 51 grams of carbohydrates, and 10 grams of fat
- 1 medium orange
- 1 1/2 ounces almonds
Macronutrients: approximately 323 calories, 10 grams of protein, 26 grams of carbohydrates, and 23 grams of fat
Daily Totals: approximately 1,946 calories, 71 grams of protein, 288 grams of carbohydrates, and 68 grams of fat
- 3 small whole-wheat blueberry pancakes with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
- 1/2 cups low-fat Greek yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup sliced strawberries and a sprinkling of cinnamon
Macronutrients: approximately 414 calories, 19 grams of protein, 57 grams of carbohydrates, and 13 grams of fat
- Beef and broccoli stir fry (3 ounces of flank steak, 1 cup of broccoli, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, and 2 teaspoons of low sodium soy sauce)
- 1 cup of brown rice
Macronutrients: approximately 556 calories, 25 grams of protein, 64 grams of carbohydrates, and 22 grams of fat
- 7-ounces low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 medium banana
Macronutrients: approximately 251 calories, 21 grams of protein, 35 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of fat
- English muffin pizza (one whole-wheat English muffin, 2 tablespoons low-sodium tomato sauce, 1 1/2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese)
- Large mixed green salad topped with 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup craisins (three cups lettuce, 2 tablespoons vinaigrette)
Macronutrients: approximately 646 calories, 19 grams of protein, 73 grams of carbohydrates, and 34 grams of fat
- 1 medium apple, sliced and sprinkled with cinnamon
Macronutrients: approximately 95 calories, 0 grams of protein, 25 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of fat
Daily Totals: approximately 2,062 calories, 85 grams of protein, 254 grams of carbohydrates, and 73 grams of fat
- Spinach omelet (two eggs, 1 cup fresh spinach, 1 1/2 ounces Swiss cheese)
- Two slices of whole wheat toast with 1/4 of an avocado
Macronutrients: approximately 462 calories, 31 grams of protein, 33 grams of carbohydrates, and 23 grams of fat
- Hamburger (3 ounces lean ground meat, lettuce, tomato, whole-wheat bun)
- Homemade air-fried or baked french fries (one medium potato cut into wedges) with one tablespoon of low-sodium ketchup
Macronutrients: approximately 493 calories, 34 grams of protein, 51 grams of carbohydrates, and 17 grams of fat
- Two tangerines
- 7-ounces low-fat Greek yogurt
Macronutrients: approximately 240 calories, 21 grams of protein, 31 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of fat
- One serving of Pan-Seared Salmon with Mediterranean Quinoa
Macronutrients: approximately 472 calories, 36 grams of protein, 37 grams of carbohydrates, and 21 grams of fat
- 1/4 cup unsweetened dried fruit mixed with 1 1/2 ounces mixed nuts
Macronutrients: approximately 363 calories, 8 grams of protein, 40 grams of carbohydrates, and 22 grams of fat
Daily Totals: approximately 2,030 calories, 130 grams of protein, 193 grams of carbohydrates, and 84 grams of fat
A vibrant low- or no-cholesterol breakfast could be the starting point of your journey toward heart health.
You’ve come to the perfect place if you want to start eating heart-healthily or if you want to lower your cholesterol.
Knowing which items to add and remove from your diet in order to reduce your levels is a smart place to start because dietary cholesterol can only be found in animal products. In a word, a low-cholesterol meal plan is increasing your intake of plant-based meals.
If your doctor has not instructed you to stop taking your cholesterol-lowering medicine, do not. Diet is just one tactic among many that can help you lower your cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about ways that changing your food, your exercise routine, and your way of life can help you naturally lower your cholesterol.
What Is Cholesterol?
We produce cholesterol in the body, and we also obtain it from diet. That implies that your body still manufactures cholesterol even if you don’t eat any animal products (i.e., you follow a vegan diet). The Cleveland Clinic states that we produce hormones and vitamin D via cholesterol.
When your cholesterol is measured, the total cholesterol result is frequently calculated by adding your LDL and HDL levels as well as 20% of your triglycerides. Here is an explanation of each:
- LDL cholesterol: Also known as your “bad cholesterol.” LDL, or low-density lipoproteins, carry cholesterol from the liver to other parts of the body. If you have a lot of LDL cholesterol in your blood, it can sometimes get stuck on the walls of your arteries and this buildup of cholesterol is called atherosclerosis.
- HDL cholesterol: Known as your “good cholesterol,” HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, helps shuttle LDL cholesterol from the blood back to the liver to get rid of it.
- Triglycerides: This is a type of fat that the body produces on its own, but you can also get it from food. Many factors influence your triglyceride levels, including eating too much sugar, saturated fat and alcohol, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
Healthy cholesterol levels for adults over 20, according to the Cleveland Clinic, are:
- LDL: Less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL: 50 mg/dL or higher for people assigned female at birth and 40 mg/dL or higher for people assigned male at birth
- Triglycerides: Less than 150 mg/dL
How Much Cholesterol Should I Eat?
In the past ten years, ideas about dietary cholesterol have evolved. Due to a dearth of data, the advice for cholesterol intake was withdrawn from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2015–2020. It turns out that researchers don’t think eating cholesterol has any effect on the level of cholesterol in your blood.
There are certain limitations to this, though:
According to a June 2018 review in Nutrients, those who consume large amounts of both saturated fat and foods rich in cholesterol are at an increased risk for developing heart disease.
Recall the egg controversy? Eggs are low in saturated fat but high in dietary cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol levels, the AHA no longer advises that you restrict your dietary cholesterol but rather that you limit saturated and trans fats instead because they are more likely to increase your cholesterol levels.
What Does a Cholesterol-Lowering Diet Look Like?
A cholesterol-lowering diet is comparable to a heart-healthy diet. When it comes down to it, you are eating to defend your heart against the negative effects of cholesterol buildup.
A plant-based diet high in fruits, vegetables, heart-healthy fats, and whole grains is the foundation of eating for your heart. These foods are not only high in vitamins and minerals, but also in fiber.
Numerous advantages of fiber include lowering cholesterol and blood sugar. In general, there are two forms of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber are present in most plant foods, but soluble fiber—found in foods like oats, broccoli, peas, and many fruits—grabs hold of cholesterol and removes it from the body, assisting in lowering cholesterol levels.
It is advised by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that you consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume. However, as long as you gradually increase your intake and drink lots of water to lower your risk of experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort, there really isn’t an upper limit to fiber.
Foods to Fill Up On
- Fruits: Apples, oranges, bananas, pears, peaches, berries
- Vegetables: Broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, cauliflower, onions, squash
- Legumes: Black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils
- Nuts: Pistachios, cashews, almonds, walnuts
- Whole grains: Quinoa, barley, oats, popcorn
- Healthy fats: Olive oil, avocados, nut butters, olives
- Lean proteins: Lean chicken, turkey, fish, eggs
Foods to Eat in Moderation
- Red meat: You’ll want to especially limit red meats with a lot of marbling because they’re high in saturated fat. Lean beef is a source of iron, so you don’t need to avoid it completely — just limit it to 3 ounces or less per week if you have high cholesterol, per the Cleveland Clinic.
- Full-fat dairy: Cheese, butter and whole milk are rich in saturated fat. Choose reduced-fat versions when you can.
- Added sugars: While it might be recommended to avoid these completely, it’s not realistic. A diet high in added sugars (over 50 grams per 2,000-calorie diet) is linked to a three-fold higher risk for heart disease, according to March-April 2016 research in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. The AHA recommends limiting your added sugars to no more than 25 to 36 grams per day. If it’s helpful to remember numbers, it’s roughly the same as the amount of fiber you should get in a day. Foods with added sugars include:
- Dairy desserts
Foods to Avoid
Trans fat: Found in highly processed and shelf-stable food. Although the FDA banned trans fats and phased them out of our food system back in 2020, manufacturers can still include the fats in products if the amount is less than 0.5 grams. To avoid those sneaky trans fats, look for the word “hydrogenated” in the ingredients list. Foods with trans fat can include:
- Fast food
- Margarine and shortening
- Refrigerated dough
- Non-dairy coffee creamer
The Mediterranean Diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet may both be highly beneficial if your goal is to lower your cholesterol.
Lean proteins and heart-healthy fats are included in each of these diets, which are predominantly plant-based. They typically have low levels of sodium, added sugar, and saturated fat.
Due to their high fiber content, these diets can also benefit if you have excessive cholesterol or blood sugar (which helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels).
Your 7-Day Meal Plan to Lower Cholesterol
- Breakfast: This Almond Bran Crunch will keep you full until lunchtime.
- Lunch: Red Lentil Coconut Soup is a winning low-sodium lunch with 12 grams of fiber.
- Dinner: This Bejeweled Stuffed Butternut Squash is a beautiful addition to your diet.
- Breakfast: Raspberries are high in fiber and antioxidants, and you’ll get a good dose of both nutrients in the Vegan Cocoa Pancakes With Raspberry Smash.
- Lunch: Black beans, corn and avocado are a plant-based delight in this Avocado and Black Bean Taco Salad.
- Dinner: No added sugar and 11 grams of fiber to round out your day with All-Day Soft Tacos.
- Breakfast: Get 8 grams of fiber and less than 200 milligrams of sodium with this heart-healthy Upton Bircher Muesli.
- Lunch: Lentil Pasta With Creamy Red Pepper Sauce and Spinach uses high-fiber beans to make it creamy without dairy.
- Dinner: Get dinner on the table fast with this Tuna and White Bean Salad.
- Breakfast: Start the day right with 11 grams of fiber in this Baked Apple Oatmeal.
- Lunch: This Roasted Chicken Salad With Almonds and Cherries will keep you full until dinner.
- Dinner: Aim for seafood twice a week and have this Daikon, Salmon, and Quinoa Grain Salad for supper.
- Breakfast: Full of 11 grams of fiber, this Crunchy Spiced Chickpea Toast will keep you satisfied until lunch.
- Lunch: Add a salad to this Pot Pie Soup that calls for cashews as a base.
- Dinner: Add diced chicken breast to bump up the protein with these Vegetarian Thai-Inspired Lettuce Wraps.
- Breakfast: Breakfast is as delicious as dessert with Strawberry Coconut Cake Oatmeal.
- Lunch: Cinnamon adds a nice, unexpected flavor to Spicy Bean Chili.
- Dinner: Low in sodium and high in fiber, pair this Pan-Roasted Broccoli With Tahini Dressing with a piece of roasted cod or chicken breast for a complete dinner.
- Breakfast: Add a piece of fruit to this Fajita Frittata With Avocado Salsa for a complete and nutritious breakfast.
- Lunch: Pair a Guacamole Loaded Sweet Potato with a grilled chicken breast for a protein- and fiber-rich lunch.
- Dinner: Feel free to add a whole-wheat roll to hold this Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Burger for even more fiber.
Can Grape Juice and Apple Cider Vinegar Lower Cholesterol?
I don’t recommend apple cider vinegar as a nutritionist. There is no proof that apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol in humans because all of the studies on its effects on cholesterol were conducted on animals.
Similarly, there is no conclusive human proof that grape juice helps lower cholesterol. Fruit juice also contains a lot of sugar, which might cause your blood sugar levels to rise.