If your doctor suggests a low cholesterol diet plan for heart health, you'll probably boost your intake of fruits, veggies and other plant foods, which don't contain any dietary cholesterol. At the same time, you'll significantly decrease your reliance on animal foods, such as meats, whole eggs and dairy, which can be high in cholesterol. Or you can opt for lower-cholesterol versions.
People with high blood cholesterol levels should limit their intake of dietary cholesterol to 200 milligrams per day, advises UCSF Health. If this sounds like you, ask your doctor about following a low-cholesterol diet for life, instead of just for seven days.
Read more: Foods Not to Eat If You Have High Cholesterol
Lowering Your Cholesterol With Breakfast
You have a variety of breakfast choices for your low-cholesterol diet menu, even if you're accustomed to eating eggs. On a couple of days, try an omelet made with sauteed vegetables and egg whites, which contain no cholesterol. Add an ounce of cheddar cheese for 30 milligrams of cholesterol.
Oatmeal is naturally cholesterol-free; enjoy it on alternate days, combined with other plant foods such as walnuts, blueberries or blackberries, and soy or almond milk. A cup of cottage cheese has only 10 milligrams of dietary cholesterol and is good with fruit like pineapple, peaches or berries.
Low-Cholesterol Lunch Plans
Eat a salad for lunch to keep your cholesterol intake low. On one or two days, top your greens with canned tuna in water; 3.5 ounces contains only 30 milligrams of cholesterol. Beans and soy foods like tofu are naturally cholesterol-free, so add them to your greens on other days for protein and fiber.
Alternative lunch options include low-fat hummus with vegetables and whole-wheat pita bread or a black bean or chickpea burger. A cup of fat-free yogurt, which supplies just 10 milligrams of cholesterol, is a quick, light lunch on days when you're in a rush.
Hearty-Healthy Dinner Ideas
If you want animal protein with dinner, go with fish several days of the week for the lowest cholesterol counts, and keep your serving sizes in check. A 3.5-ounce serving of halibut has 41 milligrams of cholesterol, whereas salmon contains 63 milligrams. The same amount of crab meat yields 52 milligrams of cholesterol.
Load the rest of your plate with steamed veggies or salad greens for cholesterol-free sides; on another day, try a baked potato seasoned with herbs and a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, which has just 4 milligrams of cholesterol. To round out your week, go for a few meat-free days with no cholesterol at all. For example, try making bean soup, vegetarian chili or a veggie stir-fry with tofu.
Possible Snacks for Low Cholesterol
Nuts are a filling, cholesterol-free snack. But just because they lack cholesterol doesn't mean you should eat them to excess. Nuts are high in fat, even though it's the heart-healthy unsaturated kind, so keep your portion size to a small handful. You can vary the types of nuts you eat every day of the week and never get bored.
Fresh fruit is another nutritious snack with no cholesterol, and you can add a tablespoon of nut butter to make your apple or pear snack more filling. Popcorn is another good choice, but watch the microwaveable packets for butter, which may add cholesterol. Pop it plain instead and add a dusting of Parmesan cheese or cholesterol-free nutritional yeast for flavoring. Cinnamon as an alternative topping that gives your popcorn a slightly sweet flavor on days when you're craving a treat.
Read more: The 9 Best Cholesterol-Lowering Foods