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10 Foods to Break Your Low-Cholesterol Diet Rut

By Matthew Kadey
WebMD Feature

Life’s too short to settle for a stale diet.

It's fine to rely on a few key heart-healthy foods for your cholesterol-friendly diet, but you want to avoid burnout.

If you can recite your daily menu by heart, swap in some new foods, says Tara Gidus, RD, of Orlando, FL.

There's a perk. “By mixing up your food choices you’ll get a wider array of nutrients on a daily and weekly basis,” says Gidus, who co-wrote the Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies.

Try these 10 ideas to tickle your taste buds once again.

1. Old Fave: Olive Oil. New Fave: Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is pressed from the pulp that surrounds the avocado pit. It's got a buttery flavor. "Good" monounsaturated fat makes up about 72% of its calories, the same as olive oil.

“The monounsaturated fat in avocado oil helps protect your heart by reducing LDL cholesterol levels and improving your blood pressure numbers,” says Washington, DC, dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield, RD.“Avocado oil is also high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that can help to reduce inflammation.”

Serve it up: Use avocado oil as you would extra-virgin olive oil in vinaigrettes, pesto, dips, or drizzled on sliced tomatoes. It can also take medium-high heat, so you can use it to saute meats and vegetables.

2. Old Fave: Salmon. New Fave: Sablefish

Sablefish, also called black cod, hails from the deep waters of the North Pacific. It's got pearly-white buttery flesh and texture similar to that of halibut.

Like salmon, it's rich in omega-3s. Wild sablefish from waters off the Alaskan coast are a sustainable seafood choice, too.

Serve it up: You can grill, steam, broil, poach, bake, or sear sablefish fillets. It takes well to sauces, salsas, and spice rubs, too.

3. Old Fave: Carrots. New Fave: Parsnips

These root vegetables have a nutty, slightly sweet flavor. They have 60% more fiber than Bugs Bunny’s favorite veg.

Fiber is good for your cholesterol and keeps you feeling full longer. You'll also get nutrients like vitamins C and K, folate, and potassium.

Serve it up: Unlike carrots, parsnips are almost always better when cooked. Roast to boost their natural sweetness, or chop and add to stews and soups.

4. Old Fave: Peanut Butter. New Fave: Almond Butter

Almond butter is sweeter and has more monounsaturated fat, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Look for a brand that lists one simple ingredient: almonds.

Serve it up: Make your toast tastier, spoon some into your oatmeal, or add to smoothies.

5. Old Fave: Green Lentils. New Fave: Black Lentils

Black lentils, sometimes called beluga lentils because of the beluga caviar they resemble, are less earthy-tasting than most other lentils. You'll get about 12 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber in a half-cup cooked. They also have anthocyanins, antioxidants that are also in dark berries.

Serve it up: Black lentils hold their shape and texture once cooked. Try them in soups or in salads mixed with chopped veggies and vinaigrette.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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Answer:
Desirable
0-199
Borderline
200-239
High
240+

Your level is currently

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal.

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is borderline high. If your LDL goes higher, your total cholesterol level could become Borderline High. Consider reducing the amount of foods you eat with saturated fats and increasing physical activity. If you get more exercise, your level of "good" HDL cholesterol may increase, which could also help to keep your levels of LDL and total cholesterol in check.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL. The HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL because the HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. But your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as statins. Following medication, dietary, and exercise instructions should result in improvements.

Your total cholesterol level is High, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

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