A lipid lowering diet is often recommended for people who have high cholesterol or heart problems. Your doctor may put you on a lipid lowering diet to help reduce your risk of a heart attack, stroke, and other health issues associated with high cholesterol levels. A lipid lowering diet often focuses on eating more vegetables, fruits, and grains, as well as healthy sources of protein. Being on a lipid lowering diet does not mean you cannot eat meat at all. In fact, with the right strategies you can include meat in your meals and still maintain a lipid lowering diet.
EditChoosing Healthier Cuts of Meat
- Buy lean cuts of meat. When you shop for meat, go for lean cuts of meat to reduce the saturated fat in each serving. Look for cuts of meat that have minimal visible fat at the grocery store or at your local butcher’s shop. Go for lean cuts of beef like the round, chuck, sirloin, or loin. Get lean cuts of pork like tenderloin or loin chop. Have lean cuts of lamb that come from the leg, arm and loin. Look for cuts of chicken like the breast or thighs that are skinless, as they will be leaner and healthier.
- The butcher at your grocery store or meat shop should be able to tell you which cuts of meat are leaner than others. Don’t be afraid to chat with the butcher and ask questions like, “Can you recommend a lean cut of beef?” or “What do you have that is a lean cut of pork or lamb?”
- Go for less fatty meats like chicken or turkey. Chicken and turkey are considered leaner meats than beef, pork, duck, or goose. If possible, go for chicken or turkey when you buy meat. White chicken or turkey meat is often leaner than darker chicken or turkey meat.
- You may try buying more chicken or turkey and saving other, fatter meats for special occasions or special meals. This way, you end up eating meat that is not too fatty or that will increase your cholesterol levels on a regular basis.
- Fish is also a good option for protein, especially if you are trying to cut meat out of your diet. Consider integrating fish into your meals, such as salmon, cod, or tilapia. Having fish as the main protein in some of your meals can make your meals less fatty and meat heavy.
- Look for “select” or “choice” grades of beef. “Select” or “choice” grades of beef have less marbling than “prime” grades of meat. This means they have less visible fat and are often leaner cuts of meat than “prime.” “Choice” grades of beef are higher quality than “select” grades of beef. Both “choice” and “select” grades are good for braising, roasting, or sauteing.
- When buying ground beef, make sure the label on the meat says “lean” or “extra lean.” This will ensure the fat content is lower than normal ground beef.
- After you brown the ground beef, make sure to pour off the fat.
- Avoid processed meats. Processed meats like sausage, bologna, salami, and hot dogs are high in calories, sodium, and saturated fat. They are a bad meat option if you are on a lipid lowering diet and should be avoided.
- If you do eat processed meat, always read the label on processed meat carefully and look for brands that have lower sodium and saturated fat. They should only be eaten occasionally, if at all, on a lipid lowering diet.
EditPreparing Meat in Low-Fat Ways
- Trim the fat off meat before cooking it. To reduce the lipid content on meat, use a clean sharp knife to trim off any visible fat. Often cuts of meat will have fat lining the outside of the meat or sections of fat between the layers of meat. Removing these will ensure you are consuming less fat once you cook the meat.
- If you are eating out and having a dish with meat, try not to eat the sections of fat on the meat. Cut them out or eat around them.
- Use vegetable oils to cook meat. Vegetable oils like olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, and avocado oil are all good options when cooking meat. You can also use margarine. You should also cook other foods like vegetables and grains in vegetable oils to reduce your consumption of saturated fats. Using vegetable oils instead of animal fat like butter will help keep the fat content in your meals down.
- Using vegetable oils and margarine with added stanols and sterols instead of butter will help to lower your cholesterol.
- Keep your kitchen stocked with vegetable oils so they are within reach when you are cooking and preparing meat. Get in the habit of drizzling olive oil on meat for roasting and sauteing meat in sunflower oil instead of butter.
- If you cook fish at home, you should use vegetable oils to cook the fish. Drizzle olive oil over salmon or cod and bake them in the oven. Grill fish with olive oil or canola oil.
- Broil or bake meat rather than pan fry them. Broiling or baking meat can help to keep the fat content down in your dishes. Try broiling lean meat instead of pan-frying it. Brown meat under the broiler instead of in the pan to keep the fat content down.
- When you are baking or roasting meat, use a rack so the fat can drip off the meat as it cooks.
- Use wine, fruit juices, or oil-based marinades instead of meat drippings when basting meat in the oven.
- If you do pan-fry meat, always use vegetable oils and pan-fry the meat on a lower heat so the fat content is reduced.
EditRegulating Your Meat Portions in Meals
- Include more heart healthy foods in your diet. It is important to include more heart healthy foods in your diet, such as nuts and high fiber foods, low fat dairy products, vegetables and lean meats. Try to stay focused on all of the foods you can eat in larger portions, such as vegetables, and avoid focusing on what you cannot have.
- For example, you could enjoy a portion of meat with a large serving of broccoli and carrots, and a ½ cup to 1 cup of brown rice. Aim to cover half of your plate with vegetables.
- Add smaller portions of meat to your meals. Another way you can still enjoy meat on a lipid lowering diet is to have smaller portions of meat in your meals. Try increasing your servings of vegetables and grains and reducing your servings of meat on your plate. Instead of having a fist sized amount of meat, for example, you may try having half a fist sized portion.
- You should also make sure you have more vegetables and grains on your plate than meat so your portions are smaller. Filling your plate up with vegetables and grains can help you feel more full and not as hungry for meat.
- Use meat as a condiment. Another way you can reduce your servings of meat is to view meat as a condiment rather than the main focus of your meal. Sprinkle a small portion of meat over your salads. Have a small amount of sliced meat over your rice and vegetables so you still get some meat but too much.
- You can also prepare meals that are vegetable focused with a small amount of meat added for flavor or seasoning. For example, you may make a soup stock that is meat based and use it to make a vegetable soup. Or you may use a cut of meat to season a vegetable and bean stew.
- Reduce the number of meals you have that contain meat. Rather than cut out meat completely from your lipid lowering diet, try to cut down on the number of meat heavy meals you have per week. Maybe you eat vegetable focused meals five days a week and meat heavy meals two days a week. Or perhaps you have two meals a day that are vegetarian and one meal a day that has a small portion of meat. Try to make meat less of a focus of every meal and vary up your meals so you are eating more vegetables and grains.
- Try having more meat substitutes in your meals so you still feel satisfied. Fill your plate with healthy substitutes for meat that still taste as good as a big slice of meat. Portobello mushroom burgers, eggplant lasagna, or vegetarian curries are all good substitutes for meat heavy meals.
- Go for the lean meat option when you eat out. When you eat out at a restaurant, try to go for the lean meat option on the menu so you are not having a meal too high in fat. Look for lean meat options like a chicken dish or a lean beef dish. Try a turkey burger instead of a ground beef burger. Opt for the fish entree instead of the steak.
- If you are not sure what the fat content is for certain items on the menu, do not be afraid to ask your server at the restaurant for this information. Ask questions about the meat menu items so you can find one that has a lower fat content.
- Speak to your doctor about making a dietary plan. If you are struggling with how to integrate meat into a lipid lowering diet, speak to your doctor. They may be able to recommend certain meals or different ways you can prepare meat in a healthy way. They may also put you on a dietary plan that allows you to still eat some meat but also maintain a lipid lowering diet.
- Your doctor may recommend that you work with a nutritionist if you need more detailed guidance and want to maintain a dietary plan long term.