When your doctor tells you that you need to lower your cholesterol, the first thought that probably runs through your head is, “Ugh, now I’ll never eat good food again.” Wrong.
While low-cholesterol dishes may not sound all that sexy, they can actually be incredibly delicious and satisfying – you just have to know what to look for.
The dishes below capitalize on the wonderful ingredients that don’t happen to have cholesterol or on lean cuts of meat and poultry that are naturally low in cholesterol. In fact, you might be surprised to learn how much you actually can eat.
Full of heart-healthy benefits, avocado’s creamy texture and taste makes it a perfect ingredient for thickening salads (instead of using cheese) and also allows you to cut back on the amount of oil used in the salad dressing. Slice it in sandwiches, or eat it in dips like this one with baked pita chips or raw vegetables.
Instead of frying potatoes or sweet potatoes (which basically annihilates any nutrients), bake them until they’re crispy and top them off with some good-quality sea salt to maximize on flavor and health benefits.
Herbs and spices are essential for adding depth and flavor to dishes without adding fat or cholesterol. This recipe slowly cooks small Cornish game hens with lemon and oregano to create tender, juicy meat and a tasty sauce to spoon over minted orzo. (You can also substitute wild rice, quinoa or whole grain couscous for the orzo.)
While cheese isn’t entirely cholesterol-friendly, hard cheeses like Parmesan have a lower fat content than rich, creamy cheeses like Brie and are a good alternative when you have a craving. It’s a perfect cheese for adding a nutty, saltiness to salads or soups, or just nibbling on with olives. This recipe uses the cheese as a garnish for a fresh salad of raw almonds, oranges, and arugula.
Even Chef Eric Ripert makes dishes that are low in cholesterol. His use of classic Asian ingredients like ginger, garlic, scallions, and soy add an exotic and exciting element to the overall dish. Try using these flavoring agents in simpler dishes, like with diced boneless, skinless chicken breast sautéed with mushrooms and broccoli for a quick and healthy weeknight meal.
Baking fish in foil is simple, healthy, and fun because it cuts down on the amount of oil/fat needed to cook the fish since it is essentially steaming inside the foil. Pack an assortment of vegetables in the foil packet, making sure to play around with different types of fish (remembering to remove the skin), spices and herbs so that you don’t get bored.
Just because you’re trying to cut back on cholesterol, doesn’t mean you can’t eat the foods you love. Lean cuts of meat like pork chops or poultry are a good choice (see below for shopping tips), but just make sure to trim any skin and visible fat before cooking (this also applies to fish). Serve with vegetables, brown rice, or quinoa.
Fish dishes like this one cut back on time and kick up flavor with strong-tasting herbs like dill. This recipe is great on its own or served with pearled couscous, quinoa or vegetables for a heartier meal.
Spicy, creamy, crunchy and sweet – these vegetables are filling, nutritious, and absolutely delicious. Cook them on Sunday and leave in the refrigerator for a weekday snack when you come home and are starving. Having them available will probably prevent you from reaching for a less healthy alternative.
Who said food couldn’t taste good and be good for you? This richly spiced dish capitalizes on Indian seasonings and flavors to create a complex and well-rounded meal.
Lean Meats and Poultry Shopping Tips
When shopping or planning recipes, try to use these cuts:
Beef: sirloin, tenderloin or chuck.
Pork/Lamb: tenderloin, loin chops or leg.
Poultry: skinless breast meat is the leanest choice.
Ground Meat: Look for labels that say 90% lean or higher. Sometimes, ground turkey or chicken is a better alternative to ground beef.
Note: Check out the American Heart Association's recommendations and guidelines for high cholesterol and remember these key points: When trying to lower your blood cholesterol levels, it’s also important to maintain an active lifestyle in addition to modifying your diet. While not all foods will necessarily have high cholesterol levels, the intake of foods high in saturated fats can also contribute to raising blood cholesterol levels. This is why it’s important to remove excess fat on cuts of meat and to eat leaner cuts of meat in general.
Of course, a diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts is the best bet for reducing the risk of heart disease and other diet-related illnesses, especially when paired with an active, low-stress lifestyle.