Some diets may help lower your cholesterol levels and promote weight loss. These could include plant-based diets, the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and TLC diets, among others.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance that is created by your liver. It’s important for several bodily functions.
However, high levels of cholesterol can build up in your arteries, narrowing or stopping the flow of blood. This could potentially cause a heart attack or stroke.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over
If you have high cholesterol, a healthcare professional may recommend controlling your cholesterol levels with dietary and lifestyle changes.
Keep reading to learn more about dietary choices that could help you lower your cholesterol and lose weight.
- foods low in saturated fat, such as lean cuts of meat without skin and low fat dairy
- minimally processed, healthy fats like those found in fish, avocado, and nuts
- fruits and vegetables, excluding white potatoes
- foods made mostly of whole grains rather than refined ones, such as whole wheat bread and pasta
- plant-based protein like legumes
- lean and unprocessed forms of meat
- liquid plant oils, such as olive oil
- at least two meals per week of fatty fish
Foods to avoid
- red meats and fatty meats that aren’t trimmed
- full fat dairy products, such as whole cow’s milk, cream, ice cream, butter, and cheese
- baked goods made with saturated and trans fats like donuts, cakes, and cookies
- foods that list hydrogenated oils in the ingredients panel
- tropical oils, such as coconut and palm oils
- solid fats like shortening, stick margarine, and lard
- fried foods
- foods with a lot of salt
- sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages
Here are some research-backed, heart-healthy diets that could help you lower your cholesterol levels and lose weight.
- lots of vegetables, beans, and legumes
- fish and seafood
- a little red wine
- whole grains
- extra virgin olive oil
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet was crafted specifically to stop high blood pressure. A
- whole grains
- low fat dairy products
The diet also calls for reducing total fat, especially saturated fat.
In 2005, the
Key dietary recommendations are:
- less than 7% of your daily calories from saturated fat
- less than 200 milligrams (mg) a day of cholesterol
- 25–35% of daily calories from total fat (includes saturated fat calories)
- 2 grams (g) per day of plant stanols or sterols
- 10–25 g per day of soluble fiber
- only enough calories to reach or maintain a moderate weight
The Dean Ornish diet is a low fat, lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. This means you avoid eating meat from animals, but you can have milk and egg products. In this case, it allows for egg whites and nonfat dairy.
A 2009 study found that the Ornish diet was effective at reducing total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
The Ornish diet also emphasizes eating plants in their natural forms. Some protein sources include tofu, beans, and tempeh. It also emphasizes whole grains and healthy fats and limits simple carbohydrates, especially sugar.
The Flexitarian diet is primarily a vegetarian diet that allows for some animal foods to be eaten in moderation.
A 2015 study found that people who occasionally strayed from a vegetarian or vegan diet had significantly reduced their cholesterol and lost weight. A
The Flexitarian diet has no rigid rules, just lifestyle recommendations:
- Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
- Focus on protein from plants instead of animals.
- Be flexible and incorporate meat and animal products from time to time.
- Eat the least processed, most natural forms of foods.
- Limit added sugar and sweets.
- whole grains
- soy products
South Beach (maybe)
The South Beach diet doesn’t suggest entirely cutting carbs, but rather choosing those with a low glycemic index. It’s a phased program that initially calls for cutting out carbs, and then gradually reintroducing them.
The diet’s effect on your cholesterol level depends on the types of protein and fat you choose to eat. The South Beach meal plan reduces your intake of saturated fats, which could lower your LDL cholesterol.
How long before I see results?
Lowering cholesterol levels with healthy dietary choices takes time. Some research on plant-based diets has seen small results in as little as
The combination of diet and exercise may yield quicker results. A
The majority of people will see changes in their cholesterol levels after they lose
How long weight loss takes depends on how much you weigh when you start, and how great a calorie deficit you maintain. A deficit of 500 calories per day for 1 week could result in
Some diets stand out as being risky for heart health. They may focus on low carb and high protein ways of eating that could promote weight loss. However, they may recommend foods known that raise cholesterol levels.
The keto diet may be safe and healthy for some people, but it’s best to speak with a healthcare professional before starting this diet.
The Atkins diet entails eating all the protein and fat you want as long as you avoid high carb foods. This could create a calorie deficit, which is effective for weight loss. However, this diet may include high levels of processed meat.
A small 2018 study found a
What reduces cholesterol quickly?
Some ways to help you lower your cholesterol include:
- exercising for at least 150 minutes per week
- maintaining a healthy-for-you weight
- limiting your intake of alcohol, if you drink
- limiting sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda
- quitting smoking, if you smoke
- eliminating trans fats and processed foods
What is the best diet for someone with high cholesterol?
The Mediterranean diet is popular for people with high cholesterol. A
What foods to cut out of the diet to lower cholesterol?
Eating a heart-healthy diet may help you lower your cholesterol levels and lose weight.
Some beneficial diets may include the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH diet, and the TLC diet. Plant-based diets like vegan and vegetarian diets can also help lower cholesterol.
It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before starting a new diet or if you’re unsure of what foods are best for you. They can help you develop a diet that’s right for you.