THE LOW CHOLESTEROL DIET
The Ultimate Guide (2020)
This is a complete guide to the Low Cholesterol Diet in 2020.
Want to know how to lower your cholesterol? Maybe you are just curious about what all the fuss is about.
In any case this ultimate guide has you covered!
Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now?
No worries. Let me send you a copy so you can read it when it’s convenient for you. Just let me know where to send it (takes 5 seconds):
What is The Low Cholesterol Diet
Has your doctor ever told you that you need to lower your cholesterol? Perhaps you were reading about how celebrity’s like Jay Leno, Jessica Alba and former President Bill Clinton rave about low cholesterol foods.
Trust us, these famous celebrity’s know that eating a balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables and legumes helps to lower cholesterol.
A low cholesterol diet could be the best change you can make to your health to refresh your energy, build better gut health, clean your arteries and overall start feeling better again.
In this complete guide, we are going to break down everything you need to know in order to challenge your health and nutrition with the low cholesterol diet.
Chapter 1: What is The Low Cholesterol Diet?
Chances are your doctor or health practitioner who told you that you need to lower your cholesterol. Not to worry – we hear this all the time. Thing is, most people are unsure why they would need to lower their cholesterol, and moreover, they might not even be sure what cholesterol actually is.
What is Cholesterol?
On a basic level, cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is found in all the cells in the body. It is a valuable nutrient required in order to make some hormones, it can help to create vitamin D and it also helps you to digest food. In short, cholesterol is important – but there is more to the story.
Your body makes about 80% of the cholesterol it needs.
Yes, that’s right, your body can create most of the cholesterol required on its own and you do not need to consume more in your diet – this is why doctors recommend a low-cholesterol diet.
Dietary Cholesterol can be found in a variety of foods like meat, eggs (very high), cheese and most other dairy and animal products.
Dietary Cholesterol: Cholesterol obtained through the consumption of food and beverages.
If you consume too much cholesterol through the foods that you eat, cholesterol can accumulate with other substances and create plaque in your arteries. This is not good as plaque tends to narrow the arteries, making the blood pressure rise and this can even lead to atherosclerosis (heart disease).
Atherosclerosis: an arterial disease characterized by a narrowing of the arteries due to a deposit of fatty materials on the inner wall.
Think of cholesterol (when consumed in excess) as cheap fuel being put into a car. The cheap fuel then clogs up the engine, leading to poor fuel consumption which slows down the car’s performance and can even cause engine failure.
What is the Low Cholesterol Diet?
This is a diet that asks you to eat foods that either contain low amounts of cholesterol or help to lower your total cholesterol values.
Yes, that’s right – some foods you eat can actually lower your cholesterol by eating them.
The low cholesterol diet should be used in order to lower your cholesterol values. According to the National Cholesterol Education Program you want your cholesterol levels less than 200mg of cholesterol daily.
The best foods for lowering your cholesterol can be found on our essential shopping food list (Chapter 7).
How To Tell If Your Cholesterol is Too High?
The most effective way to tell if your cholesterol is too high is to get checked by your physician. They will ask you to provide them with a fasted total blood cholesterol measurement. This measurement will provide them with values on your total cholesterol levels in the body (all forms of cholesterol). They may also ask you to fill out a food questionnaire to see how much dietary cholesterol you are consuming daily. Check out the chart below to learn more about healthy cholesterol values.
Cholesterol Chart for Adults
Understanding Cholesterol Values
Having trouble understanding this chart? To help you understand why the low cholesterol diet may be good for you, here is a breakdown of each cholesterol value.
- Total Cholesterol
Total blood cholesterol is a measure of the other three blood cholesterol components: LDL (low-density lipoproteins), HDL (high-density lipoproteins) and triglyceride carrying lipids. In other words, total cholesterol is a combination or average of your total blood cholesterol.
- HDL Cholesterol
The “good” cholesterol, HDL protects your body against heart disease by effectively removing cholesterol from your blood and healing the arteries. Think of HDL as a recycling team that comes into the body and removes all the useless garbage in your arteries.
This is why it is good if your HDL cholesterol is around 60mg/dl – you want healthy HDL cholesterol working in your blood to heal arteries and protect against disease.
Want to learn more about HDL cholesterol? Check out this link.
- LDL Cholesterol
The “bad” cholesterol, LDL accumulates in the walls of your arteries (like sticky glue to a tube) narrowing the arteries and increasing your chances of getting heart disease and poor blood circulation.
You want to keep your LDL values as low as possible. It is recommended that your LDL number is below 100.
For those that have pre-existing heart disease, the value for improving blood quality would be to reach an LDL value lower than 70-80.
Tricky little compounds to track, triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food. Excess triglycerides in plasma have been linked to coronary artery disease (heart disease) so you will want to keep your triglyceride value lower than 150.
Interested in getting your total cholesterol checked? Ask your doctor for a lipoprotein profile test which will include the three main components to measure your cholesterol values.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance required in order to make some hormones, can help to create vitamin D and it also helps you to digest food
Your body creates about 80% of the cholesterol needed for vitality
HDL is the “good” cholesterol and LDL is the “bad” cholesterol
Your total cholesterol is a calculation of LDL, HDL and triglycerides in the blood
The value of nutrition in your life is ever-important – after all, nutrition could have the largest impact on your health and overall vitality. If nutrition is so important – what about a low cholesterol diet? In chapter 2, we delve into the importance of proper nutrition and help you to understand the nitty gritty of a low cholesterol diet plan.
Chapter 2: Why The Low Cholesterol Diet Is Important
Why bother trying to lower your cholesterol?
Did you know that along with activity levels, cholesterol is one of the most important factors to avoid heart disease?
In this chapter we delve into the importance of healthy cholesterol levels.
Why The Low Cholesterol Diet Is Important?
With all the fuss about cholesterol in your diet, the endless product labels saying “zero cholesterol” you might be starting to think – why is low cholesterol important?”
Think of cholesterol as a healing component in your body. When you are consuming the correct foods, cholesterol can help to flush chemicals from the blood and even heal the inside of your arteries – not bad eh.
Trouble is, most people who consume a traditional North American diet are eating foods that are high in dietary cholesterol. When paired with a sedentary life (lack of physical activity) we are really setting up a bad scenario for your long-term health.
Here are four reasons why you should consider a low cholesterol diet:
4 Reasons To Try The Low Cholesterol Diet
1- Improved Blood Flow
Blood flow is a term used to describe the amount of blood that is transported through the arteries. Just as blood pressure describes the amount of force needed to push blood, blood flow can be affected with higher cholesterol intake.
Elevated levels of cholesterol in the blood can influence a narrowing of the arteries which will decrease the amount of blood being transported through the body. This will not only have negative impacts on your physical/athletic performance but can also affect your lifestyle.
Common issues associated with poor blood flow are erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure, weight gain or obesity, and in some cases heart disease and stroke.
2- Decreased Total Fat Consumption
As you will come to learn, a low cholesterol diet is a diet that is high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and many other whole plant foods. These fiber-rich plant foods are also low in fat – especially saturated fats, high in fiber and have a healthier balance of the essential nutrients you need to lower your total cholesterol levels.
RESEARCH NOTE: High intakes of Saturated fats have been linked to elevated cholesterol levels.
3- Improve Gut Health
Gut health is a relatively new topic coming to the minds of mainstream health and science. There are around an average of 500 different species of bacteria that live in your gut and they can affect mood, energy, vitality, and overall health.
Ensuring that the food you eat will promote healthy bacteria in the gut is as simple as eating more foods that are cholesterol-free, low in fat, and high in fiber.
It is also important to note that everyone will experience different effects from different foods. Not everyone has the same digestive system and your nutritional intake should be different than another person. Your body is unique – just like your approach to nutrition.
A diet that is low in cholesterol is a diet that contains healthy and wholesome foods similar to those seen in a traditional Mediterranean diet. These diets have been shown to improve health through a variety of factors including weight loss, improvements in mental health (as seen in the popular book, “The Blue Zones” and overall well being.
4- Lower Average Calorie Consumption & Weight Loss
In an age where everyone wants to find the “zero calories” food option to promote weight loss, the low cholesterol diet takes a different approach.
Whereas many low calorie processed foods will contain cholesterol-promoting ingredients like salt and processed foods, a low cholesterol diet will contain primarily whole foods.
Examples of low calorie processed foods are: granola bars, flavoured nuts/seeds, chips (corn and potato), margarine, bacon, processed meats.
Whole foods like legumes, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and some fish have higher amounts of healthy HDL cholesterol and virtually no harmful LDL cholesterol.
Remember: Your body already creates about 80% of its required cholesterol on its own. Your job when following this diet is to consume foods that are either very low in total cholesterol or higher in the health HDL.
Symptoms of a High Cholesterol Diet
All this talk of different forms of cholesterol and what effects it could have on your body might have you wondering what types of symptoms you might show when eating a diet high in cholesterol.
Remember – cholesterol in the diet can cause a build-up of plaque in the arteries, thereby narrowing the arteries decreasing the effectiveness of blood transport.
In most cases, high cholesterol does not cause any symptoms until it is too late. For instance, high cholesterol can lead to heart disease and even a heart attack – if not managed properly.
A low cholesterol diet can improve blood flow, digestion, and weight loss
The best way to check if you have high cholesterol is to take a blood lipoprotein test administered by a qualified health professional
A Mediterranian diet has been shown to lower cholesterol
Not sure what specific foods you should be eating to truly improve your health and lower your cholesterol? In chapter 3, we discuss heart-healthy, blood cleansing foods that will help you feel strong, vital and healthy.
How to Eat Low Cholesterol Foods
It’s time to make the switch – but how do you do it?
We know the rules and targets you should try and accomplish, so let’s talk about how you can make the most of your health by making the switch.
How to Eat Low Cholesterol Foods?
Nutrition is, and always will be the most important factor in your goals to live a healthy life. Eating foods that are low in cholesterol will not only help to lower your total cholesterol intake, but these foods are also inherently healthy for you.
Most low cholesterol foods like fruit, vegetables, legumes, and fish not only provide the body with an abundance of vitamins and minerals, but they are also low in fat and low in calories – perfect for sustainable weight loss.
9 Tips for Eating Low Cholesterol Diet Foods
Check out these easy to follow tips to eating a diet low in cholesterol.
1. Limit Your Oil
Although cooking with oil can make your food taste better, most oils, especially those high in saturated fats like coconut oil may increase your complications that go along with high cholesterol.
2. Limit your Overall Fat Intake
Limit your fat intake to healthier plant-sources which are low in saturated fats. Olive oil, nuts, and seeds are the best options when looking for healthier fats. Although plant-fats are generally recommended as healthier alternatives to animal fats you should understand that an excess of any form of calorie can promote weight gain.
3. Eat Plenty of Fruit
Fruit has been shown to lower cholesterol. In a study published by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Family Heart, researchers found that the more fruit and vegetable participants consumed the lower the LDL levels dropped.
This is called an Inverse Relationship. The higher intake of fruit and vegetables lowered the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
4. Avoid Trans Fat
Trans fat is a human-created fat. Chemically made to put into processed foods to allow freshness for longer periods of time. Fat should naturally go bad but many processed foods high in trans fats will stay fresher for longer – like store-bought cookies, crackers, store-bought pizza, coffee creamer and more.
Avoiding trans fats will help to lower your overall fat concentrations in the body. After all, the perfect low cholesterol diet is a low-fat low cholesterol diet.
You may also choose to substitute unhealthy fats like butter for healthier alternatives like avocado. Although avocados are high in fat, the plant-sourced fat does not seem to raise LDL.
5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Help
Omega-3 fatty acids sourced from fresh fish may not lower your LDL levels, but they can help to raise your HDL (the good lipoprotein). Freshly sourced fish have also been shown to be healthy for the heart and reduce your risk of heart disease.
It is important to note that research has not conclusively proven the effectiveness of omega-3 supplements for heart health. Your best option to source omega-3 is to source it from wild-caught fish.
6. Limit Salt
Limiting your salt will not have a direct relationship with your overall cholesterol level but it can help to lower your blood pressure. Reducing your sodium is as simple as checking your foods labels which describe total sodium intake and trying not to add salt into your foods when cooking.
According to the FDA, you should try to keep your sodium intake to less than 1 teaspoon per day.
Salt can be found in a variety of foods and sometimes it is hidden in foods you may not have expected to see it in! The most popular foods that salt is found in are; processed foods like pizza, frozen dinners, smoked/cured meats, and canned foods.
For example, a frozen meal like a Cheeseburger Mac contains about 40% of your intake of salt and 25% your intake of saturated fats – in one 225g meal. Considering this meal is only 280 calories, the salt and fat intake is very high.
7. Reduce Alcohol Intake
Although alcohol does not have a direct relationship with cholesterol it will provide your body with extra, unnecessary calories – calories that can contribute to weight gain. Being overweight can increase your LDL level and lower your HDL level – the opposite of what you want.
8. Raise Fiber Intake
Fiber is a magical product found in most plant foods. Both insoluble and soluble fiber have been inversely related to lowering LDL levels in the body.
What is Soluble Fiber? A type of fiber that attracts water in the digestive tract. This slows digestion and can help to lower blood pressure.
Food Examples: Fruit/Vegetables, Bran, Oats, Nuts/Seeds.
What is Insoluble Fiber? A type of fiber that does not attract water and will add bulk to your stool to help speed digestion.
Food Examples: Whole Grains, some vegetables.
A research study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology describes the effect of dietary fiber intake levels to have a positive effect on lowering LDL cholesterol levels in the body.
Although mechanisms (how this works) is unknown, eating a diet rich in fiber will help to promote a healthier weight, better HDL-LDL ratios and promote a healthier heart.
9. Filter your Coffee
This might seem like a strange tip, but there is an active oil in coffee beans called tarpene which can contribute to a rise in cholesterol. Most terpenes are removed with the filtering of coffee (drip coffee is best).
For those who are using a french press or making cowboy coffee you might want to consider switching to a drip coffee and use filters.
Wholesome Low Cholesterol Diet Menu
There are three very important steps you can take in order to improve your ability to cook healthy, hearty, low cholesterol foods. 3 steps to follow for a heart-healthy, low cholesterol diet recipes include:
1. Cook with Whole-foods
Enough talking about fiber and where it is found. Make your meal planning simple by eating foods that are whole and as unprocessed as possible. In this way, you will be eating foods in their natural state, rich in fiber, phytonutrients and low in overall cholesterol and fat. An easy way to accomplish this is to choose whole oats or brown rice over processed cereals and white polished rice.
2. Dry Fry of Steam
Adding oil to every meal you cook can really add up. Not only do foods that are high in saturated fats like coconut oil, butter, and lard increase your likelihood of obesity, but they also have negative effects on your cholesterol levels in the body.
Instead of using oil in every meal, try dry-frying (using water instead of oil) or try to steam your food.
TOP TIP: Pressure cookers and air fryers can be a great way to cook a variety of foods with little to no oil. Instant Pot recipes can be your savior when it comes to lowering your oil consumption. Check out this link for a great low cholesterol diet menu for adults and for kids.
WRITER NOTES: My personal favorite is the Red Lentil soup with Spinach. You can find the link here.
3. Add Whole Grains to Your Meals
Some people may have the idea that carbohydrates are bad and they cause weight gain. From the perspective of eating whole foods like oat groats, barley, quinoa, and brown rice – this simply is not true.
Add to this the potential for oats, barley and other whole grains having the ability to lower LDL levels and you have a truly winning combination.
Overnight Blueberry and Buckwheat Breakfast Bowl
You may have heard of overnight oatmeal – but what about overnight buckwheat? Yes, overnight buckwheat is just as healthy as oatmeal with a refreshing nutty flavor kick. Add blueberries, honey, and some cinnamon and you have a simple breakfast to lower cholesterol and keep you feeling full for hours.
– ⅓ cup of buckwheat groats
– 1 tbsp honey
– 1 cup oat milk (or your favorite low-fat plant milk)
– 1 cup blueberries
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– ½-1 cup of water
In a large bowl or mason jar add all ingredients and stir. Leave overnight in your fridge and enjoy it in the morning. Your buckwheat groats will soak up the water and milk, combine with the other ingredients and bring flavor to your morning.
TOP TIP: For extra flavor add your favorite nut/seed to this meal. Pumpkin seeds and walnuts are our preferred choice for added nutrition and healthy fats.
Hearty Kidney Bean Salad
Kidney bean salad commonly referred to as the “peasant salad” in the Mediterranean world has some very healthy ingredients that are low in cholesterol and improve your health.
– 2 cups rinsed kidney beans
– 1 chopped red onion
– 2 diced tomatoes
– 2 diced cucumbers
– a handful of chopped cilantro
– 2 tbsp of olive oil
– ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
In a large salad bowl combine your ingredients, stir and serve. For those that enjoy a little spice with their meals, you may want to add some hot chili peppers on top of your dish. Use some fresh-baked whole-grain bread to soak up the leftover oil and balsamic vinegar.
The hardest part about any diet plan is always making the change. Changing requires a mindset of success. It is not always as simple as quitting cold turkey. If everyone could make the switch and start eating healthier we would be living in a world with fit athletes everywhere – this isn’t reality.
Those looking to lower their cholesterol should limit their fat intake
A low carbohydrate diet may increase cholesterol
Whole foods rich in fiber are very beneficial in lowering cholesterol due to the active compound, beta-glucan
Oats, legumes, berries, fruit and vegetables are staples in a low cholesterol diet plan
If making the switch was easy – everyone would be strong, vital, healthy and we would have nothing to write about. The most effective step you can take to improving your diet is understanding what foods you need to eat and making the switch.
In chapter 4 we discuss how you can make the switch and make the most of the low cholesterol diet.
Changing the Way You Think
Sometimes making a change requires more than simply eating different foods.
Pairing up with friends, using strategies for success and changing your mindset can help you to make long-term gains from a low cholesterol diet.
Let’s dive deep into how to change the way you think about your food and your health.
Making the Switch to The Low Cholesterol Lifestyle
Anytime you are making a lifestyle or dietary change you must consider the reality that the way you have been thinking and acting up to this point may not have been the most proactive for your life. Changing the way you think about nutrition and diet may help you to overcome the challenge of making the change.
Make The Switch
Understanding that you need to make a switch to a new and refreshing diet could be the best option for your health and longevity in a low cholesterol diet. Here’s how you can make the switch without removing any of the foods you love.
Keep in mind: developing habits and allowing time to adapt is essential. Take baby steps and allow for some hiccups along the way.
Increase Fiber Intake
High fiber in the diet (above 30g) has been associated with a more positive impact on lower LDL levels in the body. Increasing your total fiber content is as simple as eating more whole foods like fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
These foods will be lower in calories (which can help with weight loss) and higher amounts of fiber, which can improve your lipoprotein test results.
TOP TIP: A high fiber diet may also help to regulate bowel movements, lower cholesterol (overall), improve blood pressure, control blood sugar and aid in weight loss.
Consume More Whole Foods
Eating foods that are high in nutritional value will help to provide you with a full belly without all the calories or typical North American meals. Whole foods contain phytonutrients that help improve blood quality, lower amounts of LDL cholesterol and lower total calories than their processed counterparts.
TOP TIP: Choose items at the store which are not packaged in bags or boxes. Typically this means they underwent some form of processing. Instead, stick to the produce aisle, and when shopping for grains go to a bulk food store.
Eat Less Processed Foods
Processed and boxed foods have and always will be the enemy for human health. Although they can be considered to be quite convenient, processed foods contain very little to no nutritional value, while having higher fat, cholesterol, and calories on average.
Common Processed Foods:
– Processed meats; bacon, sausage, dried meat, ham.
– Processed cereals
– Tinned vegetables
– cookies or baked goods
– microwave meals
Lower Intake of Saturated & Trans Fats
There are three main types of fat, saturated, unsaturated and trans fat. Your best outcome for your health will always come with focussing on unsaturated fats as your primary fat intake.
Even though unsaturated fats are healthy you will still want to keep your intake of unsaturated fats to 300-500 calories daily (about 1-2 handfuls of nuts/seeds) as they are higher in total calories than carbohydrates and protein.
Consider the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is an approach to nutrition that requires dieters to consume foods that are only available in the Mediterranean world. These are foods like whole grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, and fatty fish. Animal protein from pork, beef, and chicken should be kept to an absolute minimum and your approach should always follow a whole-food perspective.
Oils like olive oil and canola oil are favored over butter and other unhealthy saturated fat sources. Here’s what your plate should look like on a Mediterranean meal:
¼ – ⅓ legumes
¼ – ⅓ whole grains
Typically a Mediterranean meal is followed by servings of fruit as a dessert. Go to options include figs, peaches, berries, and apples.
You can use olive oil and a balsamic vinaigrette paired with citrous fruit to flavor your foods and create savory dishes. We believe the mederranian style of eating is the best cholesterol-lowering diet especially when it comes to lowering low density lipoproteins.
Consider a Plant-Based Approach
A plant-based diet is a diet that is rich in whole food vegetarian or vegan meals. Most meals will include a bounty of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
A plant-based diet is quite similar to a Mediterranean diet with the added exclusion of fish and other animal products.
When dieting on a plant-based diet you should try to follow a simple guide of eating fruit (especially berries), vegetables (especially green, and root vegetables), legumes and whole grains on a daily basis.
Much of your calories will contain a very good amount of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and protein with minimal fat – perfect for your low cholesterol diet plan.
Checkout the ultimate guide to plant-based dieting.
Consider a Keto Approach
A ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate, very high fat diet. In this diet your goal is to substitute much of your carb intake with fatty foods.
But wait… haven’t we said that a low-fat approach is best? Yes, but in some cases you can bring positive impacts to your cholesterol with a keto approach.
In fact, research has shown that a high-fat (keto) diet can have very positive impacts on your overall body weight, helping people to lose weight while they lower LDL cholesterol on a low carb or keto diet.
Snack attack? Click here to learn more about Keto-friendly snacks!
In other words, a keto diet may not have adverse effects on your cholesterol levels.
How Does Low-Carb Affect Cholesterol?
We know that a low-carbohydrate diet has negative effects on cholesterol in the body. The lack of fiber, wholesome micronutrients and protective compounds like beta-glucan cna spike cholesterol levels – especially LDL.
A 2018 study found that a low carbohydrate diet administered to young healthy adults had variable effects on blood cholesterol but raised LDL levels by up to 107% compared to the control trial.
This is clear evidence that a low carbohydrate diet is not beneficial for cholesterol levels. But what about a ketogenic diet?
Keto vs. Low Carb: Which is Best?
A long-term ketogenic diet (about 24 weeks) has been shown to not only have positive impacts on weight loss, but has also been shown to lower triglycerides and LDL levels.
Need keto-friendly diet tips? Look no further! Check this out.
The main difference between the ketogenic diet and the low carb diet is the amount of carbs allowed. The keto diet is strict and allows for about 5% of your daily intake of calories to be sourced from carbohydrates.
This ensures that your body enters ketosis and utilizes active ketones in the body.
A low carbohydrate diet is exactly that – low carb. The focus is not on ketosis but rather minimizing your carb intake to about 20% of your daily calories.
Intermittent Fasting is all the craze with bodybuilders who are trying to cut weight – but is this strict style of eating effective at lowering cholesterol?
What is Intermittent Fasting?
An intermittent fasting style of diet can come in many forms. While some prefer the 16:8 method – eating all their food in an 8-hour window and fasting the rest of the day, others perfect the OMAD method, which is eating one large meal per day (usually in the evening) and fasting overnight and throughout the day.
Both methods are considered intermittent fasting and both methods could have a positive influence on your cholesterol levels – assuming you are eating foods proven to lower cholesterol.
A research study published in 2019 describes the health benefits of Intermittent fasting as being very positive. Not only do those who take part in all-day fasting (OMAD style) reduce body weight, but it seems the triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol lower by about 10% in a matter of weeks.
Not bad considering your approach is simply not eating.
Be sure you stick to the wholesome foods sourced in Chapter 7: Shopping food list, take care to ease into your fasting protocols and enjoy the results.
Avoiding processed foods like cereals, meats, dairy products and biscuits can have a positive influence on blood cholesterol
Lower your intake of saturated fats and trans fats by limiting processed meats, boxed goods and other highly processed foods
Consider a mediterranian diet or a plant-based diet approach to nutrition. Both will include delicious meals that aid in lowering cholesterol
Consider a very low fat ketogenic approach for its benefits in lowering body fat, triglycerides and LDL levels
Pros and Cons
Pros and Cons of Low Cholesterol Diet
The low cholesterol diet plan has many outstanding benefits for your long-term health, but there are also some important cons to take into consideration.
Benefits of the Low Cholesterol Diet for Kids
Lower Likelihood for Childhood Obesity
Americans are at very high risk for developing childhood obesity, and the low cholesterol diet can help combat this risk. With higher intakes of fruit and vegetables than a traditional diet, the low cholesterol diet plan has your child’s heart, weight and mental state in check.
Better Athletic Performance
A diet high in fruit and vegetables is a diet high in total complex carbohydrate value and low in fat – perfect for optimizing athletic performance. Many children who eat a diet composed mostly of whole foods will find benefits to athletic performance and recovery.
Editor Notes: Remember, a habit will stick for kids much faster and much more effectively than for an adult. Guiding children down the right path towards complete nutrition will set them up for a healthy and wholesome future. They might despise you for the endless broccoli and fruit but they will thank you later.
Benefits for Adults at Risk for Heart Disease
Lower Total Cholesterol
If you are at risk for developing heart disease you may want to keep your cholesterol in check. This means getting your blood lipoprotein checked regularly (every 3-5 years) and eating a diet bountiful in fresh, Mediterranean style foods.
Eat More Foods that Lower Cholesterol Fast
As our shopping food list (Chapter 7) will show, many of the foods consumed on this diet will help to lower your cholesterol fast.
Popular foods to lower cholesterol fast:
Soybean (edamame, soy milk, tofu, tempeh)
Oatmeal (oat groats, split oats)
Turmeric + garlic
Apples, berries and other fruit
Low Cholesterol Foods are Low-Calorie Foods
Most of the foods you will consume on a low cholesterol diet plan are foods that contain very little total calories. Foods like carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, legumes, and berries are low in calories and high in fiber. These foods can help you to sustainably lose weight while you lower your cholesterol level.
The Downside of the Low Cholesterol Diet for Kids
Whole food nutrition has no real downsides – except you may need to get creative if your children are picky about the foods that they like to eat.
Here are some tips you can use to influence your kids to jump on board a low cholesterol diet plan:
1. Slowly Change the Menu
Kids can get picky when food is switched too quickly. Instead, start incorporating foods you know to be healthy for the low cholesterol diet over time. Start them on something simple like the overnight buckwheat breakfast recipe above and slowly start to integrate more low cholesterol diet plans into their day.
2. Allow a Cheat Meal
We know that kids like to indulge, and can anyone really blame them? You must allow your children to have some cheat meals from time to time. Use simple strategies that allow your kids to have a cheat meal once a week.
3. Make Meals Colourful
Try not to stick to the bland, brown rice and fish with broccoli every day. Although this definitely fits into the mold of low cholesterol food, the meal is lacking in color and probably will not appeal to the younger kids. Add some color into your meals with raw fruits and vegetables – they are plentiful in fiber, vitamins, minerals and much more.
Downsides of the Low Cholesterol Diet for Adults
Hands down the biggest downside of this diet comes with your options when at a popular restaurant. Although you will be able to find many foods that fit into your diet plan, many of them will be highly processed and will contain excess salt- not good for your low cholesterol diet.
In these cases, your best option is to stick to the salad and grab a lean protein source like chicken, fish or beans. Grabbing a pizza may not do the trick.
Pros Far Outweigh the Cons
When you consider all the amazing benefits of the low cholesterol diet you cannot take the cons seriously. Having mild inconvenience at a restaurant and having to order a salad is really not a big deal in the grand scheme of your life and overall health.
The same goes for the color of your foods and your kid’s appetite. In some cases kids need to come to understand that not every meal is going to look like a 5-star dish, some will be simple, tasty and healthy for you.
11 Deadly Myths About Dietary Cholesterol
1. Eating Fat Makes You Fat
Excess fat consumption will lead to weight gain, but you do need some fat in your diet. Try to keep your dietary fat intake to about 300-500 calories daily (just about a handful of nuts and seeds) and focus on consuming unsaturated fat sources like nuts, seeds, salmon, avocado, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and olive oil.
2. High Cholesterol Foods Are “Unhealthy”
Although foods like eggs, dairy and most meats will have high cholesterol, they also come with essential nutrients like b-vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc and high protein. Consume in moderation and enjoy the benefits of all foods.
High Cholesterol Foods to Watch Out For:
Processed meats (bacon, hot dog, burger)
Processed grains (cereals)
Baked goods (muffin, cookies, cake)
Chips (corn and potato chips)
3. High Fat = Higher Diabetes Risk
This is true only in the case of excess saturated and trans fat consumption. Most unsaturated fats found in plant-sourced food or the fat from grass-fed, hormone-free meats can be healthy additions to your diet. A higher intake of fat does not necessarily increase your diabetes risk.
4. Anything with “Omega’s” Are Healthy
Although omega fatty acids can be beneficial to your health you want to try and consume the correct ratio of omega fatty acids. A good omega ratio is about 4:1 (omega 6: omega 3). Foods like walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds have near perfect omega fatty acid ratios.
5. Fat Free Products are “Smart” Choices
Many “fat free” products will contain high sugar, a nutrient we want to limit or avoid in order to limit inflammation in the body.
6. I Can Feel my High Cholesterol
According to the CDC, most people who have high cholesterol will have no clear signs and symptoms beyond a lipoprotein test.
7. I’ll Just Use Statin To Lower Cholesterol
Although a statin can help to lower your cholesterol markers it is a band-aid solution and does not heal the underlying issues – nutrition and lifestyle. In order to lower your cholesterol in the most effective, long-term way you need to adapt a new lifestyle approach.
8. My Body Creates “All” The Cholesterol it Needs
This is a common misconception. Although the body does create an abundance of cholesterol on its own (about 80%), you do need to consume some cholesterol (20%) through your diet in order for your body to make the other 80%.
Keep it simple and avoid trans fats and saturated fats. Healthy sources of cholesterol include olive oil and legumes – both staple foods on the mediterranean diet.
9. You Don’t Need to Lower Cholesterol
Some people believe that since your body creates its own cholesterol that you do not need to lower it. This simply is not true.
You should always do your best to keep your cholesterol inside the healthy allowable limits in order to avoid the possibility of heart disease.
10. Only Diet Will Improve my Cholesterol
Many lifestyle factors contribute to your overall cholesterol levels. Bodyweight, smoking, sedentary lifestyles – these can all contribute to elevated cholesterol.
Above all factors your overall body weight should be considered. Research shows that simply losing weight and improving your overall body-fat percentage may improve cholesterol makers.
11. Only Adults Need to Worry About Cholesterol
It is true that adults should be watching their cholesterol every 2-5 years, but children can also be at risk. In the case of children who inherit high cholesterol from their parents, regular tests should be administered and a whole-food meal plan with moderate-intensity exercise should be followed.
Author Note: Children who exhibit high cholesterol levels may have familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), an inherited version of high cholesterol.
A low cholesterol diet plan has many benefits for children and adults
Allow for cheat meals and make meals colorful and recognizable to influence children to eat healthier food choices
A low cholesterol diet rich in fruit and vegetables may have positive effects on athletic performance
Restaurant options may be limited to salads as most burgers, fries and other processed foods contain high cholesterol, high fat and high sodium
Children and adults are both at risk for high cholesterol
Although the pros far outweigh the cons you will still need a concrete plan to stick to your new diet. Sticking your diet with easy and effective steps! Continue to chapter 6 and start lowering your cholesterol today.
Sticking to Your Low Cholesterol Diet
Sticking to Your Low Cholesterol Diet
Now that you are starting to consider the possibility of a dietary shift to a low cholesterol diet you might be wondering if there are any exclusive tips for sticking to a diet like this. Here is our detailed breakdown for 10 tips for sticking to a low cholesterol diet plan (kids included).
10 Tips For Sticking to Your Diet
1. Shop for Produce First
The first items in your shopping cart should always be fresh produce. We believe that if you fill your cart with healthy and wholesome produce you will be less likely to spend time in the frozen food section.
2. Look for High Fiber
Reading the nutrition label will be key to your success on this diet. We know that fiber will help to increase the benefits of this diet so be sure to assemble shopping items that will help you hit 30g or more of fiber daily.
3. Bring Your Kids To The Store
Learned behavior is a powerful tool to help your kids see healthier food in a new light. Showing your kids the produce section will help to assimilate the foods they are eating with a healthier life. Chances are the people you see in the produce section will look thinner and more vibrant – kids notice this stuff.
4. Talk to Your Doctor
Having your doctor or physician on your side will be a big step in the right direction. Although many doctors may prescribe medications to assist in lowering cholesterol if you suggest that you only want to take a whole-food approach they may feel more inclined to help you along the way.
5. Try More Eastern Foods
Eastern-style foods like vegetable noodle soups, curry, cabbage rolls, and other staples have higher intakes of fiber and lower levels of total cholesterol. Be creative and try different cuisines.
6. Get Used to Cooking
The reality of any new diet is that you will have to get used to cooking most of your own foods. In order to avoid salt, processed sugars, and unhealthy fats, most of your meals will need to be sourced from whole foods, using the best possible ingredients.
7. Get Friends Into it
Two is always better than one – right? Getting your friends to come along with you will help as you can keep each other accountable.
8. Use Spices like Turmeric & Garlic
As you will see in our essential shopping food list, both turmeric and garlic have positive impacts on cholesterol in the body. Garlic and turmeric are both great additions to Curry recipes and stir fry recipes.
9. Snack on Fruit
Snacking is one of the most important areas of your low cholesterol diet plan that you may forget about. Popular snack foods like chips and salted nuts are high in sodium and can also be high in trans fats.
Make the switch and start snacking on fruit – they are high in fiber, contain plenty of vitamins and minerals and can even help to boost immunity.
10. Track Your Progress
The main goal and purpose of this diet are to lower your total cholesterol number. This means you should make sure to get a regular lipoprotein test. Track these results in something easily accessible like your smartphone.
This way whenever you are thinking about having multiple cheat meals in a row you can see all the hard work you put into getting a more favorable cholesterol level and make a smart choice for your health and longevity.
BONUS: Enjoy Your Food
Anyway you can enjoy the food you should. If this means trying to make each dish speak to you by using colorful vegetables – do it. If this means trying to make your dish look good and taking Instagram photos to share with your friends – do it.
The main goal for your low-fat low cholesterol diet should be to enjoy the food you are eating while improving your health. Enjoy the process and enjoy the results.
Fill your shopping cart with produce and high fiber foods like whole grains, fruit and vegetables before going to other grocery sections
Snacking on fruit can be a great way to limit dietary cholesterol but watch for dried fruits and fruit juice as they contain high sugar and lower nutritional values
Use spices like garlic and tumeric with your cooking – they aid in lowering cholesterol
Track your progress with simple meal planners or smart phone applications
Try eastern cooking like Indian food, Middle Eastern food and Latin American food as they contain high concentrations of spices, legumes and whole grains as staples
Even better than the results are the healthy and wholesome foods you will be eating. Your shopping cart will be filled with whole foods rich in fiber, nutrients and free from cholesterol. Bookmark this page, keep it handy and start creating your shopping food list.
Shopping Food List
Smart Shopping Food List to Lower Cholesterol
Having trouble finding great foods that are also low in cholesterol or provide a healthy balance of HDL? Check out this list of 10 low cholesterol diet foods.
Whether you are drinking soy milk, adding it to your coffee or eating healthy and heart soybeans, soy products have been shown to lower cholesterol levels.
RESEARCH: A 2015 meta-analysis (observation of many studies) showed that whole food soy products consistently created more favorable lipoprotein levels. These studies also showed more positive impacts on those who already had higher cholesterol levels.
Oats, especially whole oat groats have long been shown to lower cholesterol levels in the body. Not only are they rich in protein and essential nutrients like iron and zinc but they are also loaded with fiber.
TOP TIP: Oats successfully lower cholesterol through an active ingredient called beta-glucan, which is a soluble fiber. Some nutritionists believe you will get more beta-glucan with oat groats rather than split and ready-made minute oats. Try to keep your food as natural as possible.
The same powerful nutrient found in oats, beta-glucan is also found in barley and has the same amazing potential to lower cholesterol and positively impact your health. Adding barley into your soups and stews is simple, tasty and highly nutritious.
Barley may be high in beta-glucan but is also abundant in protein, iron, magnesium, potassium and contains a good amount of vitamin B-6.
Not only are almonds super tasty, versatile in cooking, but they also contain great protein content, healthy fats and have the unique ability to lower LDL while raising HDL levels in the body. Add to your favorite salad as sliced or crushed – or just bring along as a snack for your day.
Walnuts contain a very good spectrum of protein, are high in fiber, magnesium, B6 and many other vital nutrients to your health and longevity. Walnuts also have a similar ability to lower LDL and raise HDL. Get cracking!
Berries have always been the unsung hero of the fruit family. They are high in antioxidants which will help clean your blood, provide plenty of fiber, and taste great. Research shows those on a higher fat diet may experience better fat oxidation (burning fat) when consuming berries. Snack on berries and enjoy the weight loss and fat loss that comes with tasty treats from nature.
When consumed regularly, garlic has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Some research has even shown that by eating one clove of garlic per day, those with elevated cholesterol can lower their total cholesterol by up to 9%. Not bad for a spicy meal!
Although turmeric may not have a direct influence on overall cholesterol levels in the body, research has shown that turmeric reduces body weight and can lower LDL levels in patients with coronary artery syndrome.
In other words, adding turmeric into your foods may help with weight loss and the cleaning of the arterial walls – due to the active ingredient, curcumin.
A 2018 meta-analysis described the benefits of a ginger supplement and its effects on lipid profiles (the amount of fat in the body). We know that the less body fat you have the better your overall cholesterol levels will be. Supplementing or cooking with ginger on a regular basis may be a step in the right direction.
10. Wild-Caught Fish
Wild-caught fish is a great substitute for fatty meats because it contains much lower levels of overall fat, provides omega-3 which can reduce triglycerides in the blood and LDL-lowering properties. Eating wild-caught fish instead of fatty meat could be your best option for high protein concentration without eating excess fat and cholesterol.
BONUS: Drink Tea
Drinking tea is a great way to relax and unwind, but did you know that studies have concluded that drinking green tea daily can lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol? Yes, tea has amazing benefits and endless ways to enjoy it – just make sure you are drinking real green tea from the camellia Sinensis plant.
9 Surprising Foods to keep away from your shopping list that Increase Cholesterol
You’ve made an awesome shopping run and you’re standing in front of your cart thinking… “what can I treat myself with?”. Below is a list of surprising foods that increase cholesterol – try not to include these as your treats!
Processed meats (bacon, hot dog, burger)
Processed grains (cereals)
Baked goods (muffin, cookies, cake)
Chips (corn and potato chips)
Eggs (especially with the yolk)
What About Supplements That Lower Your Cholesterol?
Can supplements help to lower cholesterol? Yes! Some can. The bottom line is that any food that contains high fiber (especially soluble fiber) will help to lower cholesterol but you may also wish to include supplements into your diet.
Popular supplements for lowering cholesterol include artichoke extract, fenugreek extract, garlic, ginseng, soy protein and some B Vitamins like Niacin.
Supplements should complement a nutritious diet – they are not a substitute for healthy eating.
Author Notes: Although some supplements can have a positive effect on your cholesterol markets it is recommended that you take a whole-food approach. Adhering to a wholesome diet will be the most effective long-term solution to elevated cholesterol.
Fresh, wholesome fruit and vegetables help to lower cholesterol
Although most animal proteins can increase the bad LDL cholesterol, wild-caught fish tends to be protective
Tumeric and garlic both lower the bad LDL cholesterol
Soybean products like soy milk and edamame can lower cholesterol fast
Beta-glucan containing foods like oats and barley can lower cholesterol
Great food comes at a price right? All these low cholesterol foods lack protein, and without protein you want to be able to lose weight and workout – wrong! If you’re the type of person that wants to train hard in the gym, lose weight and improve your health, keep reading to chapter 8, weight loss & performance.
Weight Loss & Performance
Can You Lose Weight & Perform?
When a diet seems restricting people may jump to the conclusion that it is not possible to work out or lose weight. Look, we get it, a diet low in cholesterol is a diet low in meat, especially red meat – a primary source of protein. You might be asking yourself “if I can’t eat meat, how can I workout”? The reality is meat will not have a positive or negative effect on weight loss or gains in muscle mass. Let us explain…
Working out and losing weight is all about consuming the right foods with the correct amount of calories. You need a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and vitamins/minerals. Assuming you have a diet rich in the foods described in our essential shopping food list you will reach all of your weight loss and performance goals.
Weight loss is all about ensuring that you are expending more calories than you consume.
In other words, burning a certain amount of calories – say 2000 in a day, and only eating 1800 total calories. This would put you in what is called a “caloric deficit” which will force your body into a weight loss mode over time.
The foods you eat will also have a very profound effect on overall weight loss. Foods that are lower in total calories and lower in fat will help to increase weight loss.
Foods low in calories and low in fat are fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and some lean meats. Basing your diet around these food groups will influence sustainable weight loss through high fiber intake and low total calories.
Bro-science will tell you that you can’t put on muscle or gain strength without an abundance of protein in your diet.
This simply is not true.
Modern science and bodybuilding tell the story that a diet rich in carbohydrates, lean protein, and limited fat are the best ways to ensure adequate recovery time (following difficult workouts) and improved energy during the most challenging training sessions.
The low cholesterol diet plan is rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, hydration, and spices – all of which combine to create a near-perfect scenario for performance.
Weight loss is attainable on a low cholesterol diet containing fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes
Track your caloric intake and ensure you are in a “caloric deficit” in order to sustainably lose weight
Bodybuilding on a low cholesterol diet plan is attainable with the correct combination of protein, carbohydrates and fats
Summary & Key Takeaways
Is the Low Cholesterol Diet Right for You?
What is the Low Cholesterol Diet?
A low cholesterol diet is a nutritional approach to eating where you try to eat foods which have three main properties:
1. Foods are Low in Fat (Especially Trans/Saturated)
Foods that are low in fat are foods that can have positive impacts on your weight loss, improve blood lipid levels and lower your risk for a variety of health diseases like heart disease.
2. Foods are High in Fiber
Foods like fruit, vegetables, and legumes are high in fiber, a nutrient that has been shown to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in the body.
TOP TIP: The most beneficial high-fiber foods for lowering cholesterol are oats and barley due to their active ingredient beta-glucan.
3. Eat Plenty of Whole Foods
Whole foods are the most complete sources of nutrition that you can consume. Foods such as berries, chickpeas, almonds, sprouted grains, and other whole plant-foods are not only high in both forms of fiber (soluble and insoluble) but they also have very low overall fat.
Plant foods, with the exception of wild-caught fish, should be the staple of your diet when following a low cholesterol diet plan.
How Does it Work?
When you consume foods that contain low levels of fat you influence weight loss and, in some cases, fat oxidation.
Those who are at healthier body weights have a lower likelihood of developing hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol in the arteries).
You can improve this one step further by consuming specific foods like soy, oats, barley, berries and drinking tea to actively combat the bad LDL cholesterol and improve the good HDL cholesterol.
Why You Should Try It?
If you suffer from high blood pressure or have been told by a doctor that your cholesterol levels are too high you should make the switch to a low cholesterol diet.
Although there are no true symptoms of high cholesterol, many patients may increase their chances of having heart disease or other fatal conditions. Be sure to check the chart below to find where you stand.
Cholesterol Chart for Adults
More Fiber: Eat plenty of whole plant foods like oats, barley, berries, broccoli, and other fruit.
Less Fat: consume less overall fat by limiting oil intake and avoiding processed red meats.
More Fresh Foods: consume more fresh produce from your local farmers market.
Less Processed Foods: processed foods high in trans fat and salt are the true enemy.
Cholesterol Questions: 11 Popular FAQs
1. What is the best drink to lower cholesterol?
Green tea has been shown to reduce cholesterol in the body. For an extra advantage to lower cholesterol restrict the added sugar, diet sweeteners and add ginger to your green tea.
Popular Drinks to Lower Cholesterol:
Unsweetened Citrous fruit drink (grape juice, orange juice)
Unsweetened Tart Cherry juice
Unsweetened Cranberry Juice
2. What foods should you avoid if you have high cholesterol?
High-fat red meats like beef and pork contain saturated fats which can raise cholesterol and promote weight gain. Avoiding butter and milk products may also help to lower cholesterol intake.
Most Common High Cholesterol Foods to Avoid:
Processed meats (bacon, hot dog, burger)
Processed grains (cereals)
Baked goods (muffin, cookies, cake)
Chips (corn and potato chips)
3. What reduces cholesterol quickly?
The fastest way to reduce cholesterol is to make the switch to a predominantly plant-based diet and add spices like garlic/turmeric to many of your meals. Finish off your meals with a warm green tea with ginger.
Top Tip: If completely making the switch is difficult you can slowly move towards a plant-based approach by eating plant-based for 2-3 days a week. This will still make a positive impact on your overall health.
4. How can I lower my cholesterol in 30 days?
Basing your diet around fresh produce and whole grains will help to drastically lower your cholesterol. You can take additional measures like limiting fat intake, salt intake and staying hydrated.
3 Steps for 30 Days:
Remove all snack food and substitute for fresh fruit or raw vegetables to increase daily fiber intake and lower cholesterol
Substitute processed meats for legumes. This will provide you with adequate protein without the added daily cholesterol
Drink tart cherry juice or a citrus fruit juice with every meal – make sure it is unsweetened and do not add additional diet sweeteners.
Author Notes: Can find a tasty juice that you like? Try grabbing frozen berry blends from the store and add hemp seeds or flax seed into the blender. Blend smooth and enjoy!
5. What are some low cholesterol diet breakfast options?
Oats, barley, bananas and any kind of fruit can serve as breakfast options. Try to avoid processed cereals and processed meats – sticking to fresh wholesome ingredients will always be best. Check out the Overnight Buckwheat & Blueberry Breakfast bowl in our recipe section.
6. What is HDL vs LDL?
High density lipoprotein or “good cholesterol” helps to flush cholesterol through the body. Low density lipoprotein or “bad cholesterol” builds up in the arteries which can cause a blockage, and, if not treated, heart disease.
7. How do foods Lower Cholesterol?
Foods help to lower cholesterol through active components like beta-glucan (a soluble fiber found in grains and fruit) and by promoting more HDL circulation in the blood – which helps to clean the arteries.
Remember… About 80% of the cholesterol in your body is created by the body. The remaining 20% consumed through your diet will ensure that your body is producing the correct amount of HDL which can clear LDL from the blood.
Cholesterol needs to move through the bloodstream – it is essential for creating vitamin d and repairing arterial walls. To do this it packages itself with fat – this is where the problem can occur.
A high-fat diet influences elevated LDL. Conversely, a low-fat diet can help to allow the body access to its regular system of clearing LDL from the blood – even if it’s being transported with fat.
8. What foods should I avoid for lowering cholesterol?
Processed meats, processed grains, processed baked goods, and oils or fats high in saturated fat or trans fat. If you want to lower your cholesterol you should take a low-fat approach with foods rich in fiber in phytonutrients.
Specific foods to avoid include:
9. Can low-fat help to lower cholesterol?
Yes, low-fat diet plans like the mediterranian diet or a plant-based diet have significant impacts on lowering cholesterol. A low-fat approach to lowering cholesterol will be the most effective.
10. What low cholesterol diet plan will help to lose weight?
Ensure your plate follows a simple recipe of ½ fruits and vegetables, ¼ grains and legumes and ¼ nuts/seeds. This will help to balance your meals, promote weight loss and decrease cholesterol.
11. How Can I Make Meats Have Less Cholesterol?
It is important to understand that although most meat products will have high cholesterol they will also come with a vast array of nutrients like b-vitamins, zinc, magnesium and protein.
It is always recommended to avoid processed meats and instead consume grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and wild-caught fish.
Consume your meat with cruciferous vegetables and they contain many protective elements like phytonutrients, fiber and micronutrients like vitamin k and vitamin c.
PDF version contains all of the content and resources found in the web-based guide.