High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease and all-cause mortality, so a low-cholesterol diet plan can be an effective way to help manage high cholesterol and improve your health.
But, what do low cholesterol diet plans entail, and how do you follow a 7 day low cholesterol meal plan successfully to try and improve your health?
In this diet guide, we will discuss what foods can help lower cholesterol, the benefits of low cholesterol diet plans, meal plan recipe ideas, and provide you with a 7 day meal plan to lower cholesterol we have created that you can try yourself.
We will cover:
- What Is a Low Cholesterol Diet Plan?
- What Are the Best Foods to Lower Cholesterol?
- The 7 Day Meal Plan To Lower Cholesterol
Let’s dive in!
What Is a Low Cholesterol Diet Plan?
A low cholesterol diet plan is a meal plan that includes foods that lower cholesterol to combat and help prevent high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia).
Although there are no hard-and-fast rules with low-cholesterol diet plans, most low-cholesterol diet meal plans limit total cholesterol intake to 200 mg per day.
They also eliminate all trans fats and limit saturated fat intake to a maximum of 7 percent of total daily caloric intake.
For example, on a 2,000-calorie diet plan to lower cholesterol, you should consume no more than 14 calories of saturated fat or about 15 grams.
An important thing to note is that a 7 day low cholesterol meal plan does not necessarily exclude foods containing cholesterol; dietary cholesterol has not been shown to raise serum cholesterol levels conclusively.There are a number of factors that increase the risk of high cholesterol, such as family history, a sedentary lifestyle, excessive body fat, smoking, and following an unhealthy diet.
However, this last high cholesterol risk factor—an unhealthy diet—doesn’t necessarily mean a diet that includes foods high in cholesterol.
While many high cholesterol foods are associated with high cholesterol levels in the body, there are often other nutritional aspects of these foods that are potentially contributing to increasing cholesterol levels as well.
For example, research suggests that saturated fat, found in fatty meat, butter, and whole-fat dairy, trans fat, high sugar intake, and high sodium intake can also increase cholesterol levels.
The worst offenders are trans fats, which are found in the hydrogenated oils used in baked goods, pastries, margarine, etc.
An important question to consider before trying a 7 day meal plan to lower cholesterol is: Do I need to follow a low cholesterol diet plan?
Ultimately, a 7 day low cholesterol diet plan is designed for people with high cholesterol or risk factors for high cholesterol in order to adjust eating habits to include primarily foods that lower cholesterol.
But, what is considered high cholesterol?
According to the CDC, over 200 mg/dL of serum cholesterol is diagnosed as high cholesterol.
However, an important thing to keep in mind is that there are no symptoms of high cholesterol in and of itself, so if you have concerns about having high cholesterol, it is important to talk with your doctor and get a lipid panel and full blood work done.
The other important point here is that even if you do not have high cholesterol, you can focus on eating foods that reduce cholesterol because you will find that the best low cholesterol meal plans are essentially the same as nutritious, balanced, healthy diets for anyone.
What Are the Best Foods to Lower Cholesterol?
So, what foods can you eat on a 7 day meal plan to lower cholesterol? What nutrients and food groups should be the focus of a diet plan for low cholesterol?
The best foods to lower cholesterol are essentially the same foods that almost everyone should be eating as the focus of a healthy lifestyle diet for weight loss, optimal health, and reducing the risk factors for chronic diseases.
These diets focus on eliminating processed foods, reducing sodium, and focusing on nutritious, natural foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Additionally, the best diets to lower cholesterol incorporate heart-healthy fats such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty fish, as well as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and other plant-based foods.
These types of healthy dietary fats can reduce inflammation in the body, decrease LDL cholesterol levels, and increase HDL cholesterol levels, improving your overall lipid profile and the inflammation that often underlies cardiovascular disease.
The 7 Day Meal Plan To Lower Cholesterol
Below, we have created a healthy 7 day meal plan to lower cholesterol.
You can mix and match the cholesterol-lowering recipes based on your preferences and tailor the 7 day diet plan to reduce cholesterol to your individual caloric needs.
You can do so by adding additional snacks and increasing portion sizes if you need more calories or cut back on the snacks and serving sizes if you are following a 7 day low cholesterol meal plan for weight loss.
- Breakfast: Protein and greens smoothie made with a banana, spinach, almond butter, fat-free Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, raspberries, and chia seeds.
- Lunch: Baby kale and farro salad bowl with sliced avocado, chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese, snap peas, and peanuts.
- Snack: Hummus with carrots, cucumbers, pepper strips, and celery.
- Dinner: Sesame-crusted grilled salmon with Brussels sprouts and broccoli rabe over brown rice. Side salad.
- Snack: Apple with almond butter and dark chocolate.
- Breakfast: 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup of mixed berries, ½ cup of muesli or low-fat granola, and unsweetened coconut flakes.
- Lunch: Portabella mushroom burgers on a whole grain bun or lettuce wrap, roasted carrots, beets, and parsnips.
- Snack: Melon and unsalted nuts.
- Dinner: Grilled salmon over cauliflower rice seasoned with lemon juice and freshly chopped parsley, baked sweet potato with Greek yogurt or unsalted butter, spinach salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, and balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing.
- Snack: Apple with unsalted almond butter sprinkled with cinnamon and one ounce of dark chocolate.
- Breakfast: Overnight oats made from whole oats with a topping of Greek yogurt, mixed berries, slivered almonds, and a sprinkle of flaxseeds.
- Lunch: Veggie burger on a whole grain bun topped with arugula, tomato, and onion. Edamame on the side.
- Snack: Low-sodium hummus with carrots, cucumbers, pepper strips, and celery.
- Dinner: Miso-marinated salmon crusted with sesame seeds, roasted Brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar dressing and brown rice. Side salad with lemon juice and olive oil.
- Snack: Fat-free Greek yogurt with berries and walnuts.
- Breakfast: Smoothie made with a banana, one cup of baby spinach, almond butter, fat-free Greek yogurt, frozen raspberries, blueberries, and flax seeds
- Lunch: Grilled mixed vegetables over bulgar with a drizzle of olive oil and pumpkin seeds with chicken breast or tempeh.
- Dinner: Large salad with a blend of spinach and arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, feta cheese, ground turkey shepherd’s pie with mashed potatoes, carrots, and spinach.
- Dessert: Fresh peach and walnuts.
- Breakfast: Overnight oats made with sliced bananas, rolled oats, flax seeds, walnuts, and almond milk or skim milk.
- Snack: Cantaloupe and pumpkin seeds
- Lunch: Brown rice bowl with avocado slices, edamame, chicken breast or steamed tofu, sesame seeds, steamed broccoli, bell peppers, and mushrooms.
- Snack: Unsalted almonds and a pear.
- Dinner: Quinoa and baked salmon with slivered almonds, steamed zucchini, and yellow summer squash
- Breakfast: Low-salt plain cottage cheese with sliced apple, almonds, and cinnamon.
- Snack: Edamame.
- Lunch: Rice bowl made with brown rice, baked chicken breast, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, low-sodium cheese, lime juice, jalapeño, and unsalted almonds. Side of clementines.
- Dinner: Sheet pan chicken bake with roasted carrots, potatoes, lean chicken breast, fennel, and asparagus. Brown rice pilaf with roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Snack: Pistachios and a pear.
- Breakfast: Whole wheat toast with unsalted peanut butter and sliced banana with a drizzle of honey.
- Lunch: Turkey burger on a butter lettuce wrap (if following a low cholesterol meal plan for weight loss) or whole grain hamburger bun with sliced avocado, and zucchini noodles.
- Dinner: Quinoa salad bowl with greens, avocado, edamame, and cashew dressing made with ground cashews and tahini
- Snack: Pear and banana puréed and frozen into “nice cream.”
In addition to following this one-week meal plan to lower cholesterol, you should try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week and accumulate an additional 7,000-10,000 steps per day.
For another diet to lower cholesterol, check out our raw vegan diet guide here.