Pasta Dishes for Your Cholesterol-Lowering Diet

Tips for Healthy and Delicious Pasta With Lower Cholesterol

Almost everyone loves a good pasta dish. There's no reason you can't enjoy meals containing pasta every once in a while just because you’re following a cholesterol-lowering diet.

However, you should be aware of the ingredients you use. By not doing so, you can add extra calories and fat to your diet—both of which can lead to meals with high cholesterol levels. With these healthy tips, the next pasta dish you prepare will be delicious and cholesterol-friendly.

cholesterol-friendly pasta
Illustration by Brianna Gilmartin, Verywell​

Choosing the Right Pasta

Pasta noodles are the heart of the entire dish. While some forms of pasta can be healthy, other types of pasta may contain a lot of calories and have a high carbohydrate content. These could cause your cholesterol levels to increase.

When selecting pasta, choose those that are labeled “whole wheat” or “whole grain.” These kinds of pasta typically appear a little darker compared to other noodles. They will contain a higher amount of fiber as well and this healthy ingredient has been linked to lowering cholesterol levels.

If in doubt, always check the package label of the product. It will display the carbohydrate and fiber content per serving.

The Other Ingredients in Your Pasta Dish

The amounts and types of ingredients you can add to a pasta dish are endless. Some of these can create a delicious and heart-healthy dish. However, there are other ingredients that could sabotage your cholesterol-lowering efforts.

Grab the Veggies. Vegetables are a heart-healthy food, so you can select any vegetable to include in your pasta dish. Spinach, asparagus, onion, zucchini, and peppers are just a few of the many veggies you can try.

Do you need other ideas? Throw in a few olives, which contain healthy omega-3 fats, or a few parsley sprigs or leaves for added flavor. Even substituting sauce with mouthwatering, sliced cherry tomatoes can add flavor to an otherwise dull pasta meal.

Mix veggies and pasta in equal amounts to get a balanced, fiber-filled dish that will keep your cholesterol levels – and heart – healthy.

Easy on the Cheese. Cheeses are incorporated into a lot of pasta dishes. While cheeses contain calcium and provide added flavor and texture, they can also provide added fat to your diet.

Instead of incorporating cheeses like parmesan, romano, or mozzarella into your dish, try sprinkling it on top. This will reduce the amount of fat you ingest. Low-fat varieties of cheese are also wiser choices than the full-fat versions which could introduce saturated fat into your diet.

Select Lean Meats. Sausage and ground beef are common additions to many pasta dishes. Unfortunately, these, too, are a source of saturated fat that could adversely affect your cholesterol levels. If at all possible, sausage and red meat should be limited with your pasta. 

If you are looking to add a little protein, salmon or shrimp would be a delicious alternative. You can also add low-fat varieties of your favorite lean meats, such as turkey or chicken.

A Word About Spices and Sauces

Although they're often an afterthought, spices and sauces can enhance the taste of your dish. They can even make the difference between a scrumptious dish and a boring one.

Many of the spices commonly used in pasta dishes, such as parsley, oregano, garlic, basil, and bay leaves contain healthy nutrients without any added fat or calories. So, spice up your pasta dish to your own taste. Drizzle a little heart-healthy olive oil with your spices to create a light coating on your noodles.

Sauces are also an important component. The wrong type of sauce may introduce extra sugar and fat into your cholesterol-lowering diet. Although plenty of sauces can be found in the grocery store, it isn’t too difficult to make your own pasta sauce from scratch.

If you opt for a prepared marinara sauce, check out the labels on the product. Some of these products contain extra salt, sugar, and fat, all of which are not heart-healthy. Especially try to limit your use of creamy sauces, such as cheese sauce, since these can also serve as a source of added fat.

With the vast array of combinations available in pasta, you can have plenty of variety in your cholesterol-lowering ​diet. Whether you are looking for a pasta dinner or a light pasta dish on the side, you can create one that is healthy and won’t greatly impact your cholesterol levels.

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