Ways to Make Your Traditional Breakfasts Low in Cholesterol

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it can set the tone for your other meals and cravings. When you’re following a cholesterol-lowering diet, picking healthy foods for breakfast can be a little difficult at first.

Sometimes, such a diet can cause you to revert to tried-and-true favorites, such as a bagel and cream cheese or bacon and eggs. But starting your day with a healthy, filling breakfast can help keep your cholesterol levels within a healthy range. It can also prevent cravings for unhealthy foods later in the day.

Let's look at a few tips for ensuring traditional breakfast foods keep your heart healthy and your appetite satisfied.

Smoked Salmon Bagel
kajakiki / Getty Images

Milk and Cereal

This easy-to-make breakfast is a good way to save time. Yet, it can also add fat and sugar to your diet early on in the day, which can elevate your lipids. To prevent this, consider making some healthy changes and additions to your morning bowl of cereal:

  • Check the food label. Next time you reach for your favorite cereal, take a look at the nutrition label. An ideal cereal should be low in sugar and fat. If your cereal is high in one or both of these ingredients, you might consider making the switch to a healthier cereal.
  • Use low-fat milk. Switching to low-fat or skim milk can help cut additional fat. Additionally, consider using soy milk instead of cow’s milk in your cereal.
  • Forgo artificial flavorings. Some cereals add artificial flavors, such as berry or chocolate. As an alternative, consider a plain cereal and add your own flavorings. This can help cut fat and sugar while introducing healthier foods to your diet. For a sweeter flavor, try fresh strawberries or blueberries. Cinnamon can add a little spice and sweeten as well.
  • Switch it out. Cereal isn’t the only quick breakfast in a bowl. There are many other foods that can be just as filling and healthy for your heart. Warm oatmeal is an excellent alternative, especially on a cold day.

Check the fiber content of your cereal. Soluble fiber can modestly lower your LDL cholesterol levels. It can also increase satiety (the "full" feeling) and ultimately make this light breakfast more filling.

Pancakes With Butter and Syrup

Pancakes are a delicious breakfast treat that could potentially add fat and sugar to your diet. Changing some of the ingredients in this traditional favorite can turn a high-calorie breakfast into one that is heart-healthy:

  • Add fiber to your pancakes. Adding oatmeal or other whole grains to your pancake batter can add fiber and bulk to your pancakes without adding too many calories.
  • Scrap the butter and syrup. These two ingredients have the most potential to add fat and sugar to your breakfast. Switching to healthier ingredients can add a whole lot of flavor without increasing your cholesterol levels. Add a handful of fresh berries or cherries or reach for a dollop of plain, non-fat yogurt.
  • Spice it up. Adding cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, pumpkin, or other spices to your pancake batter can boost the flavor of an otherwise plain pancake.

Bagels and Cream Cheese

If prepared right, bagels can be a heart-healthy, light breakfast. However, adding the wrong ingredients can create a bagel that is calorie-dense and may sabotage your cholesterol-lowering diet. If bagels are the food you turn to for breakfast, consider making a few cholesterol-friendly changes:

  • Select high-fiber bagels. Selecting bagels that are whole grain or whole wheat are healthier choices than other bagel types.
  • Add only healthy toppings. Cream cheese can pack on the fat if not used sparingly. Opt instead for spreads that are low in fat. Consider making your own spreads by adding fresh chopped fruit, smoked salmon, chives, or low-fat yogurt. All of these will add flavor without too much fat.
  • Switch it up with alternative foods. Try a muffin instead. When prepared right, muffins also offer a nutritional, high-fiber alternative to bagels. If you are looking for ideas, there are many delicious, low-fat recipes out there that use heart-healthy ingredients such as oatmeal, fruit, and spices.

Beware of super-sized bagels. Calorie count references may be for a much smaller bagel, while many today are twice as large, or more. Check the food label, ask at the bakery, or weigh the bagel to determine how it relates to a "standard" bagel.


When you think of a big breakfast, eggs are commonly on the menu. However, eggs can also introduce more fat and cholesterol into your cholesterol-lowering diet. A few simple changes can make this breakfast favorite a little healthier:

  • Don't use the yolk. Eggs contain a lot of protein and other nutrients but they are also high in cholesterol—most of which is contained in the yolk. If you’re looking to cut the cholesterol content, try removing the yolk from the egg white during preparation.
  • Use one yolk instead of two. If your recipe calls for more than one egg, you may be able to use one whole egg along with the white from another egg.
  • Use an egg substitute. These will not contribute added cholesterol.
  • Consider what you add to the eggs. Don’t forget to watch the other ingredients you add to your eggs, either. Cheese, whole milk, and butter all add extra fat.

A Word From Verywell

With these healthy tips, you can enjoy your favorite breakfast items and keep your cholesterol levels healthy. Even if you are following a cholesterol-lowering diet, your breakfast can have a lot of variety and will never be boring. Have fun with it and see where good breakfast choices take you.

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  2. Maki KC, Phillips-eakley AK, Smith KN. The effects of breakfast consumption and composition on metabolic wellness with a focus on carbohydrate metabolism. Adv Nutr. 2016;7(3):613S-21S. doi:10.3945/an.115.010314