7-Day -Friendly Meal Plan for High Cholesterol

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Eat to help lower your blood sugar while improving heart health with this one-week diabetes-friendly plan for high cholesterol.

If you’re one of the more than 37 million people in the United States with type 2 diabetes, you’re likely actively managing your blood sugar. But did you know that 44% of people with type 2 diabetes also experience high cholesterol? If your blood sugar levels are chronically high, you’re at increased risk of developing heart disease and high cholesterol.

That said, there are steps you can take to improve your blood sugar and protect your heart. Aiming for a healthy diet with plenty of fiber, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats, as well as incorporating regular exercise and weight loss, can all play a role in improving diabetes and heart health. If you’re overweight, losing weight can improve both your blood sugars and cholesterol, which is why we set this plan at 1,500 calories per day. In case you have different calorie needs, we’ve also included modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories per day.

How to Improve Diabetes and Cholesterol
Before starting with the meal plan, here’s what you need to know about keeping your cholesterol in check when you have diabetes.

Balance blood sugar
If you have diabetes, one of the most important steps to protect your heart is to manage your blood sugars. Chronically high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels, leading to an increased risk of heart disease. In this plan, we aimed for regular carbohydrate intake at meals to promote good blood sugar balance. Plus, we focused on high-quality carb choices and made sure each meal has plenty of protein and fiber, two nutrients that help stabilize blood sugars and prevent spikes.

Add in exercise
Aiming for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, such as a brisk walk, has huge benefits for both your blood sugars and heart. If you can squeeze in some strength training as well, that’s even better. If 150 minutes a week sounds daunting, research shows that fitting in a 10-minute walk after most meals can help improve your blood sugar levels even more than one daily 30-minute walk.

Eat more fiber
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that our bodies can’t break down into glucose. It has a slew of health benefits but, unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough of this important nutrient. Increasing fiber helps improve blood sugar and lower cholesterol levels and can even promote weight loss. You’ll find it in whole grains, fruits and vegetables and legumes.

Aim for a healthy weight
If you’re overweight, losing 5% to 10% of your body weight can improve your insulin sensitivity, improve blood sugars and lower cholesterol. Healthy, sustainable weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week, so take it slow. See our healthy weight loss meal plans for diabetes for healthy eating inspiration.

Prioritize sleep
Long-term poor sleep can increase stress on the body, leading to higher blood sugar levels. Plus, after a bad night’s sleep, you may be more likely to reach for high-carb convenience foods and skip exercise. Focusing on good sleep hygiene is an important, though often tricky, piece of the puzzle when it comes to managing blood sugar.

Diabetes-Friendly Foods to Focus on for High Cholesterol
This seven-day plan emphasizes the following foods for improving your cholesterol numbers:

Beans and lentils
Whole grains (e.g., oats, quinoa, bulgur and farro)
Fruit, especially high-fiber fruits, such as berries, apples and pears
Vegetables, particularly leafy greens and cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts
Fermented dairy (e.g., yogurt and kefir)
Fish and seafood
Poultry
Tofu and edamame
Eggs
Healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, avocado and fatty fish)
Nuts and seeds, including natural nut butters

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:
Make 3-Ingredient Overnight Berry Muesli to have for breakfast on Days 2 through 4.
Prepare Chicken Satay Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce to have for lunch on Days 2 through 5.

Day 1
Breakfast (314 calories, 33g carbohydrate)
1 serving Rainbow Frittata
1 medium apple, sliced
A.M. Snack (206 calories, 7g carbohydrate)
¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Lunch (330 calories, 47g carbohydrate)
1 serving White Bean & Avocado Toast
1 cup low-fat plain kefir
P.M. Snack (132 calories, 13g carbohydrate)
¾ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
½ cup raspberries

Dinner (512 calories, 24g carbohydrate)
1 serving Pesto Salmon
1-oz. slice whole-wheat baguette
Daily Totals: 1,503 calories, 98g protein, 76g fat, 13g saturated fat, 124g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 1,465mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change A.M. snack to 1 medium peach, omit yogurt at P.M. snack and omit baguette at dinner.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to the apple at breakfast, add 1 plum to A.M. snack and add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner.

Day 2
Chicken Satay Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Breakfast (298 calories, 36g carbohydrate)
1 serving 3-Ingredient Overnight Berry Muesli
1 hard-boiled egg
A.M. Snack (258 calories, 18g carbohydrate)
1 cup blackberries
15 dried walnut halves
Lunch (407 calories, 28g carbohydrate)
1 serving Chicken Satay Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
1 medium peach
P.M. Snack (95 calories, 25g carbohydrate)
1 medium apple

Dinner (448 calories, 37g carbohydrate)
1 serving Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas
¼ cup guacamole
Daily Totals: 1,506 calories, 83g protein, 75g fat, 12g saturated fat, 144g carbohydrate, 36g fiber, 1,319mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit walnuts at A.M. snack and omit guacamole at dinner.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 serving Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothie to breakfast and add 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to P.M. snack.

Day 3
Cajun-Spiced Tofu Tostadas with Beet Crema
Breakfast (293 calories, 21g carbohydrate)
1 serving Apple & Peanut Butter Toast
A.M. Snack (206 calories, 7g carbohydrate)
¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds
Lunch (407 calories, 28g carbohydrate)
1 serving Chicken Satay Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
1 medium peach

P.M. Snack (179 calories, 14g carbohydrate)
¾ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
½ cup raspberries
1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

Dinner (432 calories, 41g carbohydrate)
1 serving Cajun-Spiced Tofu Tostadas with Beet Crema
Daily Totals: 1,518 calories, 82g protein, 86g fat, 12g saturated fat, 113g carbohydrate, 29g fiber, 1,282mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change A.M. snack to 1 plum and omit yogurt and chopped walnuts at P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 cup low-fat plain kefir to breakfast, add 1 large pear to A.M. snack and add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner.

Day 4
3-ingredient overnight berry muesli
Breakfast (298 calories, 36g carbohydrate)
1 serving 3-Ingredient Overnight Berry Muesli
1 hard-boiled egg
A.M. Snack (324 calories, 19g carbohydrate)
20 dried walnut halves
1 cup blackberries

Lunch (407 calories, 28g carbohydrate)
1 serving Chicken Satay Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
1 medium peach
P.M. Snack (32 calories, 7g carbohydrate)
½ cup raspberries

Dinner (439 calories, 35g carbohydrate)
1 serving Blackened Chicken with Chopped Salad
2-oz. slice whole-wheat baguette
Daily Totals: 1,500 calories, 87g protein, 78g fat, 13g saturated fat, 125g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 1,475mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change A.M. snack to 1 plum.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 serving Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothie to breakfast and add 30 unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack.

Day 5
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
Breakfast (293 calories, 21g carbohydrate)
1 serving Apple & Peanut Butter Toast
A.M. Snack (64 calories, 15g carbohydrate)
1 cup raspberries

Lunch (407 calories, 28g carbohydrate)
1 serving Chicken Satay Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
1 medium peach
P.M. Snack (237 calories, 15g carbohydrate)
¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds
1 plum

Dinner (498 calories, 37g carbohydrate)
1 serving Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
1 serving Basic Green Salad with Vinaigrette
Meal-Prep Tip: Reserve two servings of Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad to have for lunch on Days 6 and 7.

Daily Totals: 1,499 calories, 84g protein, 81g fat, 12g saturated fat, 116g carbohydrate, 31g fiber, 1,487mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit almonds at P.M. snack and omit Basic Green Salad with Vinaigrette at dinner.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 15 dried walnut halves to A.M. snack and add 1 avocado, sliced, to the salad at dinner.

Day 6
One-Pot Garlicky Shrimp & Broccoli
Breakfast (298 calories, 36g carbohydrate)
1 serving 3-Ingredient Overnight Berry Muesli
1 hard-boiled egg
A.M. Snack (110 calories, 12g carbohydrate)
1 cup low-fat plain kefir
Lunch (383 calories, 34g carbohydrate)
1 serving Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
P.M. Snack (268 calories, 21g carbohydrate)
1 cup blackberries
¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds
Dinner (448 calories, 46g carbohydrate)
1 serving One-Pot Garlicky Shrimp & Broccoli
1 cup cooked quinoa

Daily Totals: 1,506 calories, 102g protein, 63g fat, 13g saturated fat, 148g carbohydrate, 29g fiber, 1,275mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit almonds at P.M. snack and reduce to 1/2 cup cooked quinoa at dinner.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 serving Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothie to breakfast and add 18 dried walnut halves to A.M. snack.

Day 7
Vegetarian Chopped Power Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

Breakfast (314 calories, 33g carbohydrate)
1 serving Rainbow Frittata
1 medium apple, sliced
A.M. Snack (266 calories, 12g carbohydrate)
18 dried walnut halves
1 plum

Lunch (383 calories, 34g carbohydrate)
1 serving Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
P.M. Snack (124 calories, 13g carbohydrate)
¾ cup blackberries
10 unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Dinner (428 calories, 51g carbohydrate)
1 serving Vegetarian Chopped Power Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing
1-oz. slice whole-wheat baguette
Daily Totals: 1,514 calories, 73g protein, 77g fat, 13g saturated fat, 143g carbohydrate, 31g fiber, 1,345mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit walnuts at A.M. snack and omit baguette at dinner.

 

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