As Harvard Health Publications points out, "it's easy to eat your way to an alarmingly high cholesterol level." But it's also easy to make adjustments to your diet for a healthier heart to prevent issues from arising down the line. We know the word "diet" can be a turnoff for those of us who don't like to put restrictions on our eating habits, but the goods news is that there are plenty of delicious options if you know where to find them. But first, let's go through the list of foods that cause high cholesterol to get the tough part out of the way.
According to Josh Axe, MD, eggs, full-fat dairy products like milk or cheese, beef, chicken, and processed grains all have high cholesterol. Eating for a healthier cardiovascular system is by no means a zero-tolerance policy, though. In other words, you can eat the aforementioned high-cholesterol foods in moderation if they come from organic farms and aren't prepared with loads of saturated fats or tossed in a fryer.
So while we wouldn't recommend you go down a gallon of egg yolks for an afternoon snack, it's okay to eat an egg for breakfast—just don't overdo it with over high-cholesterol foods throughout the day. Now that you know what to avoid, let's head to the kitchen, and start whipping up some healthy options. Scroll through the list of six low-cholesterol recipes for a satisfied post-meal glow.
For a Hearty Breakfast: Earl Grey Chia Seed Oatmeal
Earl Grey tea and oatmeal is a breakfast duo that's pretty impossible to beat both flavor-wise and in terms of filling you up with healthy nutrients. Oats are a much better breakfast option when you've been indulging in too many eggs because they're packed with fiber. It's also extremely easy to make, so it'll be a busy weekday staple. Add some nuts for a crunch, and blueberries and a hint of vanilla extract if you want to sweeten things up.
For a Light Lunch: Citrus Ginger Avocado and Edamame Salad
This citrus ginger and black sesame–dressed salad from The First Mess is a perfect meal to enjoy if you're looking for a light lunch that's easy on your cholesterol. With avocado, carrots, and edamame, there's plenty of omega-3, which is great for lower cholesterol levels. It's the perfect vegetarian-friendly lunch, or simply enjoy it as a side dish to go alongside your meal.
For a Filling Lunch: Turkey Meatballs With Brown Rice
Quinoa and brown rice are a great alternative to processed grains like pasta or white rice. From the Kitchen brings us this brown rice bowl with meatballs that will satisfy a meat lovers craving. We recommend using lean turkey to prepare the meatballs instead fo beef for lower cholesterol levels, but in moderation, it's okay to indulge every once in a while. Add citrusy slaw, filling brown rice, delicious meatballs, and a flavorful peanut sauce to top it all off.
Everything You Need to Kick-Start a Healthy Eating Habit
For a Snack: Blueberry Flaxseed Smoothie
If you find yourself getting hungry between meals, a protein-packed smoothie is a great way to satisfy your hunger and your taste buds. This blueberry, banana, and almond butter smoothie from the Minimalist Baker is the way to go. This recipe also calls for flax seed and chia seeds, which are particularly great for cholesterol.
For a Pescetarian Dinner: Roasted Salmon Stacked with Veggies
This salmon fillet from Spoon Fork Bacon is almost too pretty to eat. Who are we kidding? We're obviously going to eat it. Salmon is an amazing source of omega-3, which as we've mentioned, is essential for healthy cholesterol levels. And then it's stacked high with fennel, lemon, cherry tomatoes, radishes, and a dash of olive oil, which is also always a better option for heart-healthy cooking.
For a Meaty Dinner Option: Minced Meat Lettuce Cups
Instead of going for a hamburger or steak sandwich, opt for some lettuce cups; they taste just as good as burgers while it's pretty much the equivalent of eating a salad. The only difference is that you'll be tricking yourself into enjoying it more if you're craving a dinner that's heartier than a salad. This From the Kitchen recipe calls for pork, but you can always opt for a leaner meat like chicken or even a vegetarian-friendly filling if you're cooking for lower cholesterol.
For more heart-conscious cooking ideas, check out a nutritionist's guide to eating for cardiovascular health.