When your blood cholesterol levels rise, your blood vessels become coated with cholesterol --- a thick, waxy substance that hardens over time --- and your blood cannot flow freely. This increases your risk for heart attacks and strokes. Reducing your intake of cholesterol is one way to get your cholesterol levels under control. While reading food labels is an easy way to calculate your cholesterol intake, be advised that according to the Food and Drug Administration labelling guidelines, a food can be labelled as "cholesterol free" even if it has up to 2 mg of cholesterol per serving. The most accurate way to ensure a cholesterol-free menu is to avoid animal products. All plant products, including fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts, are naturally cholesterol free.
For a cholesterol-free breakfast, you can serve traditional breakfast cereal with soy or nut milk in place of dairy milk. Use cholesterol-free egg substitutes to make scrambled eggs and serve them with whole-wheat toast and fresh fruit. For a sweeter breakfast option, use the egg substitute in your favorite French toast recipe. Oatmeal is a cholesterol-free food that has the added benefit of actually lowering your blood cholesterol levels. Make the oatmeal kid-friendly by letting your kids choose from a variety of healthy toppings, including fresh or dried fruits.
Lunch and Dinner
Cholesterol-free lunches and dinners should revolve around vegetables and whole grains. Try whole-wheat pasta with steamed veggies. Add a soy-based meat substitute to get a meaty texture without the cholesterol. Serve a mixed green salad with colorful veggies and chopped nuts. Nuts, like oatmeal, can reduce your cholesterol level. Top the salad with a cholesterol-free salad dressing. In the colder months, make vegetable soups with vegetable stock as a base. For thicker purees, use non-dairy milk in place of milk or cream. Cholesterol-free sandwiches are ideal for both children and adults. Make a sandwich with a nut butter and fruit, such as almond butter with bananas, or make veggie sandwiches using raw or roasted vegetables. Use a cholesterol-free salad dressing or mustard for additional flavor.
Fresh fruit makes a wonderful cholesterol-free snack. Other options include pretzels, crackers and raw vegetables. Serve the crackers and vegetables with a dip such as hummus, baba ghanoush or cholesterol-free salad dressing.
Cholesterol-free desserts can be a bit challenging, since most recipes for baked goods contain butter, eggs and milk, all of which contain cholesterol. You can serve fresh fruit and gelatin for dessert, or you can make vegan versions of traditional recipes. Substitute soy or nut milk for dairy milk, and use corn oil or another neutral oil for the butter. For the eggs, use 1/4 cup of applesauce in place of 2 eggs.
- "Eater's Choice: A Food Lover's Guide to Lower Cholesterol"; Ron Goor et al.; 1999
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Appendix A -- Definition of Nutrient Content Claims; October 2009
- Mayo Clinic: High Cholesterol
- "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian"; Mark Bittman; 2007
- Mayo Clinic: High Cholesterol -- Top 5 Foods to Lower Your Numbers
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