10 Best Diet Plans for High Cholesterol
5. Vegetarian or Vegan Diet
These plant-based diets could do a lot for your cholesterol, if you choose your foods wisely.
Vegetarians don't eat any meat. Vegans don't eat any animal products, including meat, eggs, dairy, or even honey.
Studies suggest vegetarians are less likely to get heart disease and high blood pressure. That’s because a diet with low or no animal products tends to be lower in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
But if you’re going vegetarian or vegan, you'll still need to check food labels and keep sweets and fatty foods to a minimum.
You may also want to check with a dietitian that you're getting enough protein and essential nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and zinc.
6. Flexitarian Diet
Like the idea of eating a mostly vegetarian diet, but with room for small portions of meat, fish, and poultry? That's called a "flexitarian" diet. It has many of the health benefits of a vegetarian diet but room for flexibility.
You'll fill about half your plate with fruits and vegetables. The other half will be a mix of whole grains and lean protein. Low-fat dairy products are also recommended, like milk, yogurt, and cheese.
7. The Engine 2 Diet
This is a plant-based diet created by a firefighter and former professional athlete. It’s a radical diet change to lower your LDL cholesterol levels and boost your HDL levels.
It's not a very flexible plan. You’ll enjoy lots of whole grains, veggies, fruits, legumes, tofu, and soy products, but no meat, dairy, or processed foods.
8. Biggest Loser Diet
You can lower your cholesterol while losing weight, lowering your blood pressure, getting stronger, and boosting your energy with this diet, which is based on the hit TV show.
Exercise is a must. And if you want results like the people on the TV show, going the extra mile is key.
9. Weight Watchers
This is a great plan for long-term health benefits, especially if you want to manage your weight. It’s a well-balanced diet that can help you feel full and satisfied, so it’s likely that you’ll stick to it.
“You don’t want to ‘diet’ your entire life, but rather choose meals that are consistent with healthy life choices,” says Paul B. Langevin, MD, of Philadelphia.
The plan works best if you choose meals that are high in protein and fiber, and eat fewer carbohydrates and fats, Langevin says.
10. Dean Ornish Diet
Ornish's plan comes in several levels. The strictest one is very low in fat and leaves out animal products.
In one small study, people who followed this ultra-low-fat diet lowered their cholesterol levels by more than 30%. President Bill Clinton said Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease inspired him to radically change his diet following emergency heart surgery.
Many people may find that tough to do. But Ornish also gives you other options that aren't as strict, depending on your health goals.
“Some fats are good and necessary,” says Langevin. He says fats like fish oils, polyunsaturated oils, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are off-limits on the strictest version of Ornish's plan, are good for you and necessary to keep your body functioning well.