Until recently, the blame for high-cholesterol levels was always placed on cholesterol-containing foods, like eggs, cheese and red meat. Certain people who have a genetic variation affecting their ability to metabolize fat may still need to watch their dietary cholesterol intake (read more on that here) but for most people, new research now suggests that refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and trans fats are the real culprits. Thankfully, changing up the foods you eat and adding in regular exercise can be effective strategies for lowering cholesterol levels. In this healthy meal plan, you'll see what a day of a low-cholesterol diet looks like. Delicious high-fiber foods and healthy fats (which work to raise the "good" HDL cholesterol, and lower the not-so-great LDL cholesterol) combine for a delicious day of eating to help lower cholesterol and keep your heart healthy. You'll find tasty foods like oatmeal, nuts, salmon beans and plenty of fruits and veggies in this healthy meal plan.
Related: 10 Foods That Lower Cholesterol
It's important to note that for some people, cholesterol management may require more than just diet and exercise, which is totally normal. Genetics and age can impact heart health, and medication may be necessary to manage cholesterol levels. Be sure to speak with your health care provider about the best treatment plan for you.
Read More: High-Cholesterol Diet Guidelines
Breakfast (244 calories)
• 1 serving Old-Fashioned Oatmeal
• 1/2 cup blueberries
• 1 Tbsp. sliced almonds
Top oatmeal with blueberries and almonds.
Oats are a healthy high-fiber complex carbohydrate that will help to keep you feeling full and satisfied all morning long. We skipped the added sugar here and instead use naturally sweet blueberries to sweeten things up. If you're used to putting brown sugar, honey or maple syrup in your oatmeal, try slowly decreasing the amount you're using overtime to become more accustomed to this less-sweet variation.
A.M. Snack (95 calories)
Image: Getty / Jona Baker / EyeEm
• 1 medium apple
Apples are a classic easy-to-eat snack that you can take on the go that deliver fiber and vitamins (like vitamin C). Also, did you know? Foods that require a lot of chewing make you feel more satisfied.
Lunch (325 calories)
• 1 serving Green Salad with Edamame & Beets
Edamame does double time in this simple salad, delivering both fiber and plant-based protein. It's a convenient item to have on hand (look for it in the frozen foods aisle) that helps to add satisfying staying power to meals.
P.M. Snack (106 calories)
• 1/4 cup Crispy Curried Chickpeas
One taste and you'll be hooked on these crispy, crunchy roasted chickpeas. See these other variations for Roasted Buffalo Chicken Chickpeas, Toasted Paprika Chickpeas and Cinnamon-Sugar Roasted Chickpeas.
Dinner (432 calories)
Salmon delivers healthy fats that help to keep your heart in tip-top shape. Focus on getting your fat from heart-healthy foods like salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, canola oil to keep your cholesterol levels low and for overall health.
Daily Total: 1,202 calories, 59 g protein, 155 g carbohydrates, 30 g fiber, 41 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 1,325 mg sodium.
Note: This meal plan is controlled for calories, fiber, sodium and saturated fat. If a particular nutrient is of concern, speak with your health care provider about altering this meal plan to better fit your individual health needs.
Watch: What a Low-Cholesterol Diet Looks Like