25 Low-Cholesterol Dinner Recipes
Juicy chicken, fresh veggies, bright seasonings and more come together in these delicious, low-cholesterol dinners.
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When you think of low cholesterol dinners, what comes to mind? For many of us, it’s bland chicken breast with a side of steamed broccoli. Fortunately, watching your cholesterol doesn’t mean giving up your favorite meals. Also, our bodies need cholesterol to function.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced in our bodies. It is needed to build new cells, produce vitamins and secrete hormones. Our bodies are able to produce all of the cholesterol we need.
When we take in extra cholesterol from our diets, it is possible that our cholesterol levels in the blood can rise to an unhealthy level. Animal products like meat, cheese and eggs contain dietary cholesterol. Find out how much dietary cholesterol you can eat daily.
Cholesterol travels through our bloodstreams, and the more cholesterol circulating in the body, the higher our risk for cardiovascular disease. This is because cholesterol binds to other substances in the blood and forms thick deposits along the walls of the arteries. This leads to a narrowing and hardening of the arteries, which puts us at higher risk of a blood clot blocking the artery completely. An artery blockage like this is what causes heart attack and stroke. Factors like smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes can also increase our risk for heart disease.
Fortunately, sticking to a low-cholesterol diet is as delicious as it is healthy. Because a diet rich in saturated and trans fats can raise cholesterol levels, opt for lean proteins, fresh veggies and hearty beans. The healthy fats found in many kinds of fish are known to raise your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the good kind of cholesterol that helps to remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL) from the bloodstream. A diet rich in fiber has also been proven to remove the bad LDL cholesterol. This prevents buildup in the blood vessels and lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease.
1 meatball: 63 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 24mg cholesterol, 193mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 0 fiber), 4g protein.
These chicken piccata meatballs are packed with lean protein from chicken. They cut saturated fat because they don’t use ground beef or pork like other meatball recipes. Enjoy a few meatballs on their own for a low cholesterol snack or serve them over zucchini noodles for more nutrients.
1 serving: 211 calories, 10g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 407mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate (10g sugars, 4g fiber), 5g protein.
This rich potpie recipe ditches the meat in place of hearty mushrooms and sweet potatoes. Both veggies are rich in fiber to help flush out LDL cholesterol. Serve with a small side salad for a comforting weeknight meal.
1-1/3 cups: 251 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated fat), 28mg cholesterol, 417mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 6g fiber), 16g protein. Diabetic exchanges: 2 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1-1/2 starch.
Watching your cholesterol doesn’t have to mean giving up your favorite foods. If you love Italian sausage, ditch the bun and opt for this veggie skillet instead. It cuts the sausage portion and ups the nutrients with zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes.
1-1/4 cups chickpea mixture: 240 calories, 6g fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 767mg sodium, 42g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 9g fiber), 8g protein.
Meatless Monday anyone? This vegetarian curry is rich in fiber from chickpeas and potatoes. Cutting the meat means that it’s low in saturated fat as well. This meal freezes well too, so make a double batch and stock the freezer for a rainy day.
1-1/4 cups: 349 calories, 9g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 624mg sodium, 60g carbohydrate (23g sugars, 11g fiber), 10g protein.
If you’ve ever felt like vegetarian meals just do not fill you up, it’s time to add African peanut sweet potato stew to your dinner rotation. It is hearty and flavorful while satisfying your hunger. This stew is rich in fiber from sweet potatoes, chickpeas and kale.
1 cup: 234 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 613mg sodium, 33g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 7g fiber), 9g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 2 vegetable, 1 lean meat, 1 fat.
Using hearty mushrooms instead of meat in your favorite dishes is a great way to stick to a low cholesterol diet. Mushrooms provide a meaty texture and flavor without the extra cholesterol and saturated fat. And the rich Bourguignon sauce is just icing on the cake.
1 chicken breast with 2/3 cup peppers: 267 calories, 9g fat (2g saturated fat), 80mg cholesterol, 765mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 2g fiber), 31g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 4 lean meat, 1 vegetable, 1 fat.
Juicy roast chicken breasts topped with sweet bell peppers are beautiful enough to serve to guests but easy enough for a busy weeknight. The lean chicken cuts saturated fat, and the peppers provide extra fiber. Serve over brown rice or quinoa.
2 tostadas: 347 calories, 9g fat (1g saturated fat), 5mg cholesterol, 752mg sodium, 59g carbohydrate (11g sugars, 12g fiber), 12g protein.
Taco night is the perfect opportunity to experiment with meatless meals. Up your game with chickpea and chipotle tostadas. They are crunchy and rich while cutting saturated fat and cholesterol. They’re also high in fiber from the beans and fresh veggies.
1 taco (calculated without optional toppings): 413 calories, 9g fat (1g saturated fat), 9mg cholesterol, 774mg sodium, 66g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 16g fiber), 17g protein.
Beans are a vegetarian’s best friend. They are rich in fiber and protein to keep you full and pack that hearty flavor that you’re craving. These vegetarian tacos are low in saturated fat and high in flavor with jalapeno and chili powder.
Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 cup) equals 399 calories, 13 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 87 mg cholesterol, 879 mg sodium, 51 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 19 g protein.
Enjoy this throwback to your childhood with a creamy tuna mushroom bake. Tuna is a fatty fish that has been shown to raise HDL levels. The mushrooms add fiber and nutrients to this comforting, creamy dish.
1 serving: 195 calories, 5g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 689mg sodium, 34g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 6g fiber), 6g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 vegetable, 2 starch, 1 fat.
This vegetarian meal has some serious staying power with sauteed veggies and hearty polenta. It’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol while keeping the flavor popping with garlic, parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning.
1 serving: 121 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 24mg cholesterol, 256mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 1g fiber), 18g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 vegetable, 1/2 fat.
Adding more fish to your meal plan is a great way to incorporate foods that lower cholesterol naturally. These fish fillets are flavored with lemon juice, dried herbs and fresh tomato slices. Serve with a side of roasted asparagus for a light dinner.
1 each: 475 calories, 11g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 932mg sodium, 82g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 9g fiber), 12g protein.
Meal prepping this week? This mint rice with garbanzo curry is just begging to be individually portioned into healthy lunches for the week. This vegetarian dish is low in cholesterol and saturated fat but packs fiber with garbanzo beans.