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Cholesterol-Lowering Meal Plan: How To Naturally Lower Your Cholesterol Levels

By: Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

cholesterol-lowering meal plan

Following a cholesterol-lowering meal plan is one of the best ways to reduce high cholesterol naturally and lower your risk of heart problems.

High cholesterol occurs when levels of certain fats (waxy substances) in your bloodstream are higher than they're supposed to be.

Fatty deposits can build up in your blood vessels, narrowing them or even blocking them in some cases.

High cholesterol increases your risk of developing heart disease, having a heart attack, and having a stroke.

Keeping blood cholesterol levels in check with lifestyle changes or medications if needed is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of heart problems.

High cholesterol doesn't have any symptoms, which is why routine cholesterol screenings are important to monitor your levels and determine risk levels and the need for treatment if needed.

Knowing how to lower cholesterol with diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes means reducing the need for cholesterol-lowering medications.

Use the sample cholesterol-lowering meal plans below to get started!

Suffering from high blood pressure? Learn how to reduce diastolic blood pressure with these 7 EASY tips.

What Are the Risk Factors for High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol can happen to anyone, but some factors make boost your risk of developing it.

Examples include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor dietary habits
  • Family history of high cholesterol
  • Older age
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Smoking

Eating large amounts of animal fats, including high-fat cuts of meat or highly-processed meats, increases your chance of developing high cholesterol.

Cholesterol-Lowering Foods

Foods to include in cholesterol-lowing meal plans for women include:

Vegetables

Eat a variety of vegetables as part of your cholesterol-lowering meal plan to keep high cholesterol levels in check.

Vegetables are high in fiber, which is a nutrient that plays a key role in reducing high cholesterol naturally.

Non-Starchy Vegetables

Eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables like spinach, kale, other leafy greens, green beans, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions.

Aim to fill half of each plate of food with these or other non-starchy veggies.

Starchy Vegetables

Add starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes, peas, corns, and dried beans, to cholesterol-lowering meal plans for women.

Legumes in particular, including black beans, pinto beans, soybeans, lentils, and chickpeas, are excellent sources of soluble fiber that can drastically reduce high cholesterol naturally.

Fill about one-fourth of each plate of food with starchy vegetables or other fiber-rich starches like whole grains.

Fruits

Like vegetables, fruits are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Replace sugary drinks and sweet treats with fruit as part of a cholesterol-lowering meal plan.

Aim to eat about 2-3 servings (give or take, depending on your calorie requirements) of fresh, frozen, or dried fruits without added sugar each day.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, particularly soluble fiber that has cholesterol-lowing properties.

Choose oats, including oat-based cereals and oatmeal, for breakfast and top it with fruit or nuts.

Barley and other whole grains can dramatically reduce high cholesterol, heart disease, and other chronic diseases when eaten in place of white bread and other refined grains.

Fill about one-fourth of each plate of food with fiber-rich whole grains or starchy vegetables.

Nuts and Seeds

Because nuts and seeds are loaded with heart-healthy fats and fiber, they make an excellent addition to cholesterol-lowering meal plans for men, women, and kids!

Studies show that flax seeds are especially beneficial for reducing high cholesterol naturally.

Incorporate nuts or seeds into cholesterol-lowering meal plans by eating them as a snack between meals or topping oatmeal, cereal, salads, soups, Greek yogurt, and even pasta dishes with nuts or seeds.

You can also add nuts and seeds to protein-rich smoothies!

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Fatty Fish

Research shows that fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for a healthy heart, as they help keep cholesterol levels in check.

Examples of fish rich in omega-3 fats include salmon, tuna, sardines, cod, herring, and lake trout.

To maximize heart health, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish, particularly fatty fish, at least twice weekly.

Avoid fish high in mercury like shark, tilefish, swordfish, and king mackerel.

Avocados

Because avocados are an excellent source of nutritious fats, they too can reduce high cholesterol the natural way, especially when eaten in place of animal fats.

Keep avocados on hand at your home and add them to soups, salads, tacos, burritos, turkey or veggie burgers, sandwiches, rice dishes, omelets, or whole-grain toast!

Olive Oil

Like avocados, nuts, and seeds, olive oil is a heart-healthy fat that can reduce your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease when eaten in place of not-so-healthy fats.

Studies found that Mediterranean diets, which are rich in olive oil, contribute to lower cholesterol levels, triglycerides, blood sugar, and heart disease risks.

Cook meals with olive oil every chance you get!

Grill or sauté veggies, eggs, and meats in olive oil, bake with it, or add olive oil to dressings, sauces, soups, rice, couscous, and salads!

Tea

Unsweetened tea is rich in antioxidants but very low in calories.

Studies show that drinking tea is a natural way to lower high cholesterol if you drink it several times a day, particularly in place of sugar-sweetened drinks, in addition to adopting other healthy habits.

Whey Protein Powder

Whey protein powder may also reduce cholesterol levels, as well as blood pressure, and your risk of heart disease.

Add whey protein powder to your favorite protein-rich smoothies by blending it with milk or plant milk, fruit, ice, and nut butter if you'd like!

Meet SuperFuel. The Delicious Protein Shake Packed With 40+ Energy-Boosting Vitamins & Superfoods (Designed For Busy Women)

As a busy women, it’s challenging to stay consistent with healthy eating. That’s why we created SuperFuel… the delicious “all-in-one” nutrition shake for busy women 40+ to give your body the protein + key nutrients you need for more energy, fat burning, and muscle building.

Foods to Avoid

In addition to choosing nutritious foods to add to cholesterol-lowering meal plans, steer clear of foods that may increase your risk of high cholesterol and heart problems.

Examples of such foods, which when eaten in excess can cause obesity or other health issues, include:

High-Fat and Processed Meats

Consuming fatty and processed meats can be problematic if you're trying to reduce high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Steer clear of regular bacon, sausage, salami, ham, hot dogs, deli meats, or other highly processed meats whenever possible.

Avoid fatty cuts of red meat in favor of lean cuts of organic red meat, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, seafood, tofu, or other protein-rich options.

If you do eat red meat, choose cuts with the least amount of fat marbling possible or trim excess fat off of the meat.

Other Highly Processed Foods

Avoid other highly processed foods when lowering cholesterol is your goal.

Examples include pizza, macaroni and cheese, fried foods, white bread, white rice, other refined grains, many baked goods, doughnuts, cupcakes, pies, cakes, and ice cream.

Choose fruit, whole grains, and other whole foods instead.

Fried Foods

Fried foods often contain saturated fat and extra calories, so limit fried foods when possible as part of a cholesterol-lowering meal plan.

Steer clear of fried cheese curds, fried onion rings, fried chicken or fish, chicken-fried steak, French fries, and other fried foods in favor of healthier grilled or baked options.

Regular Cheese

Regular cheese is high in saturated fat, which is a risk factor for high cholesterol when eaten in excess.

If you have high cholesterol or are at risk of developing it, limit cheese or choose reduced-fat cheeses instead!

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Steer clear of sugar-sweetened drinks too, as consuming them in excess is linked with weight gain, overweight, and obesity.

Say no to soda (both regular and diet sodas), sweet tea, lemonade, sugar-sweetened sports drinks, sugar-sweetened coffees, and other sugar-sweetened beverages when possible.

Choose water, milk, plant milk, 100% juice, regular coffee or tea, vegetable juice, or protein shakes without added sugar instead!

Learn how to reduce sugar addiction and recognize sugar addiction symptoms!

6 Sample Cholesterol-Lowing Meal Plans

To get a better idea of what cholesterol-lowing meal plans look like, use the following sample plans as a guide:

Cholesterol-Lowering Meal Plan #1

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal topped with raspberries and flax seeds or chia seeds
  • Scrambled eggs or noncured turkey bacon
  • Coffee or tea

Snack

  • Greek yogurt topped with walnuts and blueberries

Lunch

  • Lean turkey burger or veggie burger on a whole grain bun (or a lettuce wrap) topped with greens, sliced tomatoes, and avocado slices
  • Coffee or tea

Snack

  • Whey protein powder shake made with protein powder, almond milk, bananas, and peanut butter

Dinner

  • Grilled or baked salmon
  • Asparagus sautéed in olive oil
  • Brown riced mixed with pinto beans

Snack (optional)

  • Cottage cheese topped with sunflower seeds

Cholesterol-Lowering Meal Plan #2

Breakfast

  • Protein shake blended with whey protein, oats, milk or plant milk, the fruit of your choice, ice, and nut butter (optional)
  • Coffee or tea

Snack

  • Fresh pears with reduced-fat cheese or nuts

Lunch

  • Grilled chicken salad over leafy greens topped with a variety of fresh vegetables, avocado slices, whole-grain croutons, and olive oil-based salad dressing
  • Coffee or tea

Snack

  • Sliced veggies or whole-grain crackers dipped in hummus

Dinner

  • Quinoa bowl with veggies and oil-based dressing plus chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, dried beans, or lean steak

Snack (optional)

  • Greek yogurt topped with flax seeds or walnuts plus strawberries

Cholesterol-Lowering Meal Plan #3

Breakfast

  • Omelet made with uncured turkey bacon or feta cheese, vegetables, and avocado slices
  • Grapes or melon
  • Coffee or tea

Snack

  • Cottage cheese topped with sunflower seeds or chia seeds

Lunch

  • Whole-grain bread topped with tuna, sliced tomatoes, leafy greens, and avocado slices
  • Small apple
  • Coffee or tea

Snack

  • Celery sticks dipped in peanut butter
  • Plain kefir

Dinner

  • Turkey chili made with very lean ground turkey, veggies, black beans, and pinto beans plus olives and sliced avocados

Snack (optional)

  • Protein-rich smoothie blended with the fruit of your choice, plain kefir, plain Greek yogurt, and ice

Cholesterol-Lowering Meal Plan #4

Breakfast

  • Whole-grain bagel with nut butter
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Greek yogurt
  • Coffee or tea

Snack

  • Banana
  • Almonds or cashews

Lunch

  • Grilled chicken wrapped in a whole-grain tortilla with veggies and hummus or mashed avocados
  • Coffee or tea

Snack

Dinner

  • Lean pulled pork
  • Green beans topped with sliced almonds
  • Wild rice

Snack

  • Milk or plant milk
  • Blackberries

Cholesterol-Lowering Meal Plan #5

Breakfast

  • Whole-grain English muffin with eggs, tofu, uncured turkey bacon, or meatless vegan breakfast sausage topped with sliced tomatoes and mashed avocados
  • Vegetable juice
  • Coffee or tea

Snack

  • Cottage cheese topped with flax seeds and blueberries

Lunch

  • Taco salad made with very lean ground turkey or very lean organic ground beef, leafy greens, tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, and reduced-fat cheese or sliced avocados
  • Whole-grain breadstick (optional)
  • Coffee or tea

Snack

  • Protein shake blended with fresh peaches, protein powder, milk or plant milk, and ice

Dinner

  • Baked salmon and whole-grain couscous bowl with veggies sautéed in olive oil

Snack

  • Hummus with veggies or whole-grain crackers
  • Plain kefir, milk, or plant milk

Cholesterol-Lowering Meal Plan #6

Breakfast

  • Whole-grain oat cereal topped with protein-enriched milk or plant milk, berries or banana slices, and walnuts, chia seeds, or sliced almonds
  • Coffee or tea

Snack

  • Plant-based vegan yogurt
  • Watermelon

Lunch

  • Grilled veggie and chicken, lean steak, tofu, or shrimp kabobs
  • Split pea or lentil soup
  • Coffee or tea

Snack

  • Apple, pear, or banana slices dipped in almond or cashew butter

Dinner

  • Stir fry with sautéed bell peppers, broccoli, and mushrooms plus chicken, lean steak, shrimp, or tofu over brown rice

Snack

  • Protein smoothie blended with kefir, the fruit of your choice, plain Greek yogurt, and ice

Other Ways to Reduce High Cholesterol

In addition to eating cholesterol-lowering foods and avoiding unhealthy options, adopt healthy habits to further reduce blood cholesterol naturally.

Examples include:

  • Get regular exercise (at least 30 minutes daily)
  • Keep your body moving all throughout the day
  • Don't smoke
  • Limit or avoid alcohol
  • Manage stress
  • Try cholesterol-lowering supplements
  • Lose weight if you're overweight or obese

Cholesterol-lowering supplements to consider, as long as your doctor gives you the OK, include:

  • Ground flaxseed
  • Psyllium fiber
  • Garlic
  • Fish oil
  • Green tea extract
  • Niacin
  • Plant sterols and stanols
  • Whey protein supplements

If you're overweight or obese, consider the Fit Mother Project 30X weight loss program designed for busy moms to help you get high cholesterol levels under control the natural way.

Fit Mother Project programs offer custom meal plans, fat-burning workouts, health coaching support from medical experts, weekly newsletters, nutritious recipes, and much more!

You also have access to social support from other fit moms.

In addition to choosing cholesterol-lowing meal plans for women, sign up for a Fit Mother Project free meal plan and workout today!

Erin Coleman

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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Our Fit Mother 30X Program (FM30X) is the answer you’ve been looking for. Inside FM30X, you’ll receive:

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Learn More About FM30X

If you’re a busy mom who wants to finally lose weight, get healthy, and actually keep the pounds off for good, this is the simple program you’ll love sticking to…

Our Fit Mother 30X Program (FM30X) is the answer you’ve been looking for. Inside FM30X, you’ll receive:

  • The simple & delicious Fit Mother Meal Plan with easy recipes for you and your family.
  • The metabolism-boosting Fit Mother 30X Workout (under 90 min/week) to kickstart your metabolism for fast fat burning.
  • VIP email coaching where we’ll personally walk you through the program.
Learn More About FM30X

*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on a cholesterol-lowering meal plan.

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