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If you’re struggling with high cholesterol, you’re not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 71 million Americans are currently diagnosed with high cholesterol. The good news is that changing up your diet in an effort to get back on track is easier than you think, especially with the range of nutrient-rich, low- to no-cholesterol foods available today. In other words, eating cholesterol-free doesn’t have to mean crunching on raw vegetables and nothing else at every meal. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite tips for enjoying a cholesterol-free diet along with some quick and easy recipes to enjoy throughout the week.
What Is Cholesterol?
Believe it or not, cholesterol is not only found in foods like pizza or fried chicken. Along with dietary cholesterol present in meat and dairy foods, cholesterol is naturally produced in your liver to digest fatty foods and make hormones. Therefore, because your body naturally produces all the cholesterol it needs, overindulging in foods high in “bad cholesterol” puts you at risk of disrupting your body’s healthy cholesterol levels.
Why Eat Cholesterol Free?
First, you should know that there is such a thing as “good cholesterol,” also known as HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. HDL cholesterol absorbs LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (or “bad cholesterol”) and carries it back to the liver, which flushes it from the body. LDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is found in a variety of foods that are high in saturated fat and trans fat (think fried foods and high-fat animal products). This type of cholesterol may build up on the walls of your blood vessels, forming what is known as plaque, which can impair blood flow to and from the heart and other organs. That’s why it’s important to moderate your intake of LDL cholesterol whenever possible.
Tips for Eating Cholesterol Free
While it may be tough to completely limit your intake of LDL cholesterol, there are a variety of flavorful foods that can help reduce high cholesterol levels. Fruits and veggies are technically considered “cholesterol-free” (avocados are a great way to incorporate healthy fats into your meal plan, and dark leafy greens may encourage the body to regulate triglyceride, aka fat, levels); oatmeal can add filling fiber; quinoa is a great source of antioxidants; and oily fish like salmon, trout, or tuna is a solid protein choice.
Top Cholesterol Free Brands
Low in cholesterol, yet full of flavor: Check out these healthy brands.
Stocking up on pantry staples? Shop a wide selection of low-cholesterol, gluten-free favorites including crackers, pancake mixes, and even creamy frosting and cake mixes from this Chicago-based company.
These nutrient-packed crunchy crackers will keep you fueled with 3 grams of protein per serving. They’re made with a wholesome blend of almond flour, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds that are high in omega-3s, too.
Nutiva keeps things pure and simple by offering superfood-powered products made with the most premium ingredients possible. The company is also firm in its commitment to sustainability and passion for giving back to local communities.
Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
This pantry must-have is crafted in Southeast Asia where fresh coconuts are cold-pressed immediately after harvesting and never bleached, refined, or deodorized. Add a dollop to a smoothie or use it as a cooking oil.
This earth-first, certified organic brand ensures every product isn’t just high quality but also ethically sourced and sustainably grown. Lundberg Farms offers a variety of kitchen essentials (like rice, quinoa, chips, and other snacks), and is known for its legacy of family farming.
Whole grain foods aren’t just a must-have on a cholesterol-free diet, but also a wonderful source of fiber. You’ll love the delightfully nutty flavor and pleasant texture that makes this short-grain rice the perfect match for everything from fried rice to rice pudding.
Cholesterol Free Recipes
Whip up a cholesterol-free feast with these quick and easy recipes.
Your oven will get a lot more use on a cholesterol-free diet, and this recipe is no exception to the rule. Give your greens a Japanese-inspired flavor upgrade with coconut aminos, nori, and sesame.
Here’s a recipe that’s easy on the eyes and on your cholesterol levels. Tri-colored quinoa adds a dose of healthy protein while cilantro, dried cranberries, almonds, and zucchini create lovely layers of texture.
One meal, one bowl: Combine comforting cauliflower rice with sautéed spinach and mushrooms and top it off with a delicate salmon filet. This dish is not only oh-so-easy—it’s downright elegant.