Healthy Low-Cholesterol Sandwich Ideas

The sandwich is a staple dish when it comes to lunch or dinnertime dining. They are quick to make and can be constructed with a variety of ingredients to satisfy almost any craving. Although having high cholesterol doesn’t eliminate this delicious food from your diet, you still need to be careful about which foods you add to your sandwich. Adding the wrong ingredients could increase your calorie intake — and your waistline.

Pita Pocket with Grilled Chicken
LauriPatterson / Getty Images

The Bread

Bread is an important part of a traditional sandwich. Unfortunately, they can also contribute a lot of calories to the sandwich. Some types of bread containing high amounts of soluble fiber may actually help you to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, as well as aid in digestive health. Try some of these helpful tips in selecting heart-healthy bread for your sandwich:

  • Choose whole grains. Instead of choosing white, refined breads for your sandwich, select whole grain breads. These breads are high in soluble fiber that can help keep your LDL levels healthy. Examples of whole grain breads include whole wheat bread, twelve-grain bread, or breads made with buckwheat, spelt, or barley flour.
  • Look at the carbohydrate and fiber content. Another tell-tale sign of a healthy bread is its carbohydrate and fiber content. Ideally, the bread should be high in fiber and have a minimal amount of refined sugars. Some commercially available breads may have added sugar, so you should check the nutrition label on the food packaging.
  • Mix it up. Bored with the traditional sandwich? Try wrapping some ingredients in lettuce or make a wrap containing your favorite ingredients. Another healthy alternative would be stuffing your favorite sandwich fillings into a whole-wheat pita pocket.

Delicious Additions

The heart of the sandwich can consist of practically anything. However, it is this section of the sandwich that can also pack on additional calories and saturated fat and derail your cholesterol-lowering diet. Keeping your sandwich healthy doesn’t have to be boring or limit your choices with these simple tips.

Vegetables - You can never have too many of these on your sandwich. In fact, you should make it a point to add a few vegetables to any sandwich you make. Vegetables can add texture and flavor to the sandwich. Additionally, veggies contain phytosterols and other healthy chemicals that can help lower your LDL cholesterol. Although lettuce and tomato are the classic additions chosen for sandwiches, practically any vegetable can be added to a sandwich.

Needing something a little different? Add sprouts or spinach instead of lettuce. Rather than your traditional tomato, add sliced cucumber, shredded carrots, black olives, a slice of avocado or onion to your next sandwich fare. Better yet, why not add all of these ingredients?

Fruit - Although not as popular of a choice as veggies, fruits can add flavor to an otherwise dull sandwich especially if you are craving something a little bit sweeter. Chopped apples, diced cranberries, halved grapes, or citrus fruits can make a tasty and healthy addition to your sandwich.

Meats - Often touted as the most important part of the sandwich, meat can also be the largest source of saturated fat which can add calories to the sandwich if the cuts are especially fatty. Meat can be included incorporated into your cholesterol-friendly diet in moderation. Here are some ways to include meat in your sandwich, without severely impacting your cholesterol-lowering diet:

  • Use lean cuts - Some meats do not contain as much fat, which may make them a better choice than certain fattier cuts. Try these helpful tips on selecting leaner meats for your sandwich.
  • Add fish instead - Fish can be an excellent, heart-healthy alternative addition to a sandwich. Salmon and tuna have healthy omega-3 fats that can help keep your heart healthy and your triglycerides within a healthy range.
  • Add meat alternatives - Adding beans or tofu to your sandwich can add bulk and protein to your diet - without the excess fat.

Cheeses - Cheese can be a good source of calcium—​and saturated fat. When looking for cheeses to go on your sandwich, try selecting cheeses lower in fat and calories. Alternatively, some manufacturers have thinner slices of cheese available that are pre-cut to reduce calories.

Your Spreads

Some sandwich spreads can add a lot of flavor to your sandwich—and calories if you’re not careful. When looking for spreads to add to your sandwich, always check your food labels for sugar and saturated fat content. Safer sandwich additions to your heart-healthy sandwich include:

  • Vinegar
  • Mustard
  • Spices
  • Olive oil

Other spreads may contain excess sugars or fats that can also be detrimental to your heart-healthy diet. If you decide to use any of the below spreads, use them sparingly or look for low-fat alternatives:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Butter
  • Creamy dressings

The possibilities for constructing the perfect, cholesterol diet-friendly sandwich are endless given the variety of healthy foods available to you. Combining your sandwich with healthy side items will not only ensure a tasty and filling meal, but it will also help keep your heart healthy.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hollænder PL, Ross AB, Kristensen M. Whole-grain and blood lipid changes in apparently healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(3):556-72. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.109165

  2. Trautwein EA, Vermeer MA, Hiemstra H, Ras RT. LDL-Cholesterol Lowering of Plant Sterols and Stanols-Which Factors Influence Their Efficacy?Nutrients. 2018;10(9):1262. doi:10.3390/nu10091262

  3. Bowen KJ, Harris WS, Kris-Etherton PM. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Are There Benefits?Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med. 2016;18(11):69. doi:10.1007/s11936-016-0487-1

Additional Reading
  • Whitney EN and SR Rolfes. Understanding Nutrition, 14ed. Wadsworth Publishing 2015.

By Jennifer Moll, PharmD
Jennifer Moll, MS, PharmD, is a pharmacist actively involved in educating patients about the importance of heart disease prevention.