7 Easy Food Swaps to Help Lower Cholesterol

High cholesterol doesn't have any specific symptoms but increases your risk of serious health conditions like heart disease or dementia. Cholesterol is found in your blood and cells and is required to make hormones, vitamin D and digestive fluids in your body. It can be absorbed from the food you eat and is made naturally by your liver. Cholesterol is of two forms Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) also known as bad cholesterol and High-density lipoprotein (HDL), often termed as good cholesterol.

Lifestyle and dietary habits have a significant impact on cholesterol levels and if these levels are not controlled, they may put you at risk of developing complicated health issues. Lowering your cholesterol could be challenging especially when it comes to changing your lifestyle and dietary habits. However, smart food choices can lower your cholesterol naturally and help you to stay fit. Diet is an important factor to control cholesterol and these seven easy food swaps can help you lower your cholesterol without compromising on your tastebuds.


Replace chicken or red meat in your meals with fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and tuna to boost your HDL (good) cholesterol. Fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids which have proved to lower the risk of heart disease or stroke. Scallops can also be a healthy substitute for meat as they are low in fat and calories. You can add two to three oily fish meals to your weekly diet.


Vegetables with high fiber are often recommended by nutritionists in a diet and salads are one of the forms through which you can easily consume these vegetables. However, if you are bored with the bland taste of salads, you can add heart-healthy nuts to your salads. Nuts are loaded with protein, fiber and antioxidants. Research has also shown that regular consumption of nuts may help lower blood cholesterol levels, however, the effects may vary from type, amount and duration of nut consumption. Walnuts are one such heart-healthy nits which can lower cholesterol levels as well as the risk of heart disease as it has polyunsaturated fatty acids and fiber.


Oats and oat bran have soluble fiber which can decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. You can enjoy a bowl of porridge or muesli for breakfast or eat an oats muffin as a snack and you will get the necessary fiber without increasing cholesterol levels. Granola can also be a tasty option. Soluble fiber dissolves in the gut and forms a thick paste that binds with cholesterol and prevents these substances from getting absorbed. This reduces the LDL levels and helps you stay fit.

Soya Milk

Soya milk is often considered helpful to lower cholesterol as it can reduce LDL cholesterol. Soya milk can be an alternative to other milk which can keep your cholesterol in check as well as increase your intake of soy protein. There are many Soy milk brands available in the market, but check the nutritional label and purchase a product that is fortified with calcium.

Dark Chocolate

Milk chocolate has saturated fat that can significantly increase your LDL cholesterol. Dark chocolate can be an alternative for chocolate lovers. Even though dark chocolate has a moderate amount of saturated fats, it also has flavanols which can help in protecting your heart. Some studies have shown that dark chocolate can reduce your total cholesterol levels. Cocoa butter, which is the main ingredient of dark chocolate, has oleic acid. This is a monounsaturated fat which has shown a decrease in total cholesterol including LDL levels. Hence, swapping to dark chocolate can be a good alternative to keep a check on your blood cholesterol levels.

Low-fat Yoghurt

Low-fat yoghurt can be an alternative to cream if you want to cut down on the intake of saturated fat and thereby maintain your cholesterol levels. Saturated fat can increase your LDL levels and it is always advised to limit your saturated fat intake to maintain healthy body weight. Switching to low-fat yoghurt can saviour your tastebuds as you can flavor it with spices or use it as an accompaniment to fruit or puddings.

Plant Sterols

Low-fat plant sterols are extracted from plant gums and have been reported to help in decreasing LDL cholesterol. These compounds are added to food products like spreads, orange juice, yoghurt and milk. You can swap butter for a low-fat spread which contains plant sterols and reduce your cholesterol levels. These plant sterol spreads can be used on a sandwich, salads or mashed potatoes.

Other Foods to Reduce Cholesterol Levels

There are many other food choices which can help you in reducing your blood cholesterol levels. Chickpeas are one such food which has sitosterol. This substance lowers your blood cholesterol levels. You can make hummus out of mashed chickpeas and olive oil and use it as a dip. This food choice will provide your body with fiber and protein and keep you away from saturated fats and excess sodium.

Additionally, you can use ground turkey as a substitute for ground beef in making meatballs or meatloaf. Research has shown that low saturated fats are associated with low cholesterol levels and lean ground turkey has comparatively less saturated fat as compared to ground beef.

If you can't stay away from potato fries, you can opt for roasted potatoes. This requires a moderate amount of oil and if you roast potatoes at home in olive oil, you can control the preparation. As a result, you reduce your risk of increasing cholesterol levels. Regular potatoes and sweet potatoes are filled with nutrients like fiber, potassium and vitamin C. Hence, eating them in moderation may be beneficial for people controlling their cholesterol levels.


Controlling the blood cholesterol levels minimise your risk of developing chronic health conditions like cardiovascular ailments. If you are overweight, follow an unhealthy diet, are diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure, or have a family history of heart disease, you are at risk of developing heart problems due to increased cholesterol levels. Some easy food swaps can control your daily intake of saturated fats and thereby help lower your cholesterol levels. Consult your healthcare provider if you are allergic to any of the foods to get the best alternative.

Updated on: 24-Apr-2023


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