Low-Cholesterol Food Swaps for Red Meat

Close-Up of veggie Burgers

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If you think a low-cholesterol diet has to be meat-free, think again. While some meat choices are, in fact, high in cholesterol and saturated fat, others are not and can fit into a heart-healthy diet. Red meat also is an excellent source of many important vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, iron, and zinc.

If you want to include red meat in your low-cholesterol diet, be selective about the meat you choose. Avoid standard ground beef, bacon, organ meats (such as liver) and processed meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs and high-fat luncheon meats), which can be super high in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Try these yummy heart-healthy food swaps to make menu planning a breeze.

Heart-Healthy Swaps

  • Swap beef burgers for vegetable or soybean burgers. Or, to make a healthier beef burger, choose 90% lean ground beef (or leaner) and make smaller-sized sliders—stick to 3 oz. max per serving. Pair with baked sweet potato fries for a healthier take on classic burgers and fries.
  • Swap high-fat steak cuts, such as filet mignon, T-bones, skirt steak and rib eye for sirloin, top round or bottom round. These cuts are lower in saturated fat, calories, and cholesterol. Also, look for the words "Choice" or "Select," rather than "Prime," which tends to signal fattier cuts.
  • Swap beef or chicken thighs in stir-fry try tempeh, seitan, and tofu. These vegetarian substitutes are excellent sources of protein, and readily take on the flavor of sauces and flavorings used in their preparation. Adding meatless options to your weekly rotation is a smart move for heart-health.
  • Swap traditional beef stew for this slimmed down, lower cholesterol alternative to the classic: Lean beef stew.
  • Swap meatloaf for mini chicken meatloaves and fill this rest of your plate with nutrient-rich dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli, greens, and spinach and a small serving of a healthy starch (peas or a small baked potato, for instance).
  • Swap beef meatballs with these tasty chicken mushroom meatballs to cut the saturated fat out of your meal. Pair with whole wheat pasta and add as many vegetables as you can fit. (Onions, broccoli, green and red peppers, and mushroom work well).

While initiating any food changes like this can take some work, but as you start making the change, it'll soon become a habit. Just start stocking your freezer and your grocery list with heart-healthy lean meats and meat substitutes. Replace the meat in your family's favorite recipes with these low-cholesterol alternatives and you'll soon see that these meat swaps let you forgo some cholesterol without sacrificing flavor.

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