Tips for Grilling out on a Cholesterol-Lowering Diet

When the warmer temperatures of the year arrive, so do the outdoor festivities, which usually involve planning your trips, cleaning the swimming pool, and, of course, firing up the grill. Grilling is a favorite pastime for many during the spring and summer months. But if you’re following a cholesterol-lowering diet, you may feel a little limited in the foods that you can cook on the grill.

The good news is that grilling is not reserved for just fatty, high-calorie meats. With these healthy tips and recipes, you can also enjoy the delicious taste of the grill while watching your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Meat And Vegetables On Barbecue Grill
Fabian Krause / EyeEm / Getty Images

Grill Leaner Meats

The most common misconception about grilling is that only certain meats, such as pork and beef, are suitable for the grill. Other types of meats, including chicken and turkey, are also suitable candidates for your grill. These proteins are lower in saturated fat than their fattier counterparts but can be equally cooked to perfection on the grill. Even better, grill heart-healthy fish like salmon and tuna steaks.

Add Fruits and Vegetables

Meat isn’t the only grill-worthy food that can complement your cholesterol-lowering diet. Fruits and vegetables can also be thrown on the grill with surprisingly delicious results. These foods not only contribute vitamins and nutrients to your diet but also contain cholesterol-friendly ingredients such as fiber and phytosterols that can keep your LDL cholesterol levels in check. Additionally, fruits and veggies are low in calories. So, whether you put them on a skewer, place them in aluminum foil, or just let them set directly on the grill, these helpful tips will give you nothing but satisfying results.

Go Meatless

If you want to make a completely vegetarian meal, meatless foods, like tofu and soy steaks, can also be grilled with nice results. Although these foods don’t behave the same as other meats on the grill, they can be cooked, yielding a low-fat and filling meal that won’t make a huge impact on your lipids.

Try Grilled Fish

Fish is another grillable food that can make a quite savory and heart-healthy dish. Generally, fish are not high in saturated fat. However, some fish is high in an unsaturated fat called omega-3 fatty acid that can help keep your triglyceride levels healthy. The American Heart Association recommends fatty fish including mackerel, black cod, salmon, sardines, bluefin tuna, whitefish, and striped bass, all high in omega-3 fatty acids.

A Word About Sauces and Rubs

Many times, seasonings and sauces are also added before or while you are grilling. Although these can greatly enhance the taste of the foods that you are grilling, they can also add unwanted calories. When preparing the rubs and sauces you will be using for your grilled items, be mindful of the fat, carbohydrate, and salt content, since some of these additions could potentially increase unwanted calories in your diet. If you are using a commercially prepared sauce or rub, check your food labels for nutritional content. You can also try these helpful tips for adding a lot of taste – without putting a huge dent into your heart-healthy diet:

  • Experiment with herbs and spices. Basil, rosemary, thyme, and many other herbs and spices can be used as ingredients for your rubs and contribute a lot of flavor to your grilled dish. Although it takes a little bit of experimentation, there is a lot of information out there to help you select the right herbs for your dish and taste buds.
  • Select low-fat varieties of your favorite sauces. Some sauces and dips can be high in fat and sugar, especially if they are cream-based. Fortunately, many manufacturers make low-fat versions of these selections.
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. Soliman GA. Dietary Fiber, Atherosclerosis, and Cardiovascular DiseaseNutrients. 2019;11(5):1155. doi:10.3390/nu11051155

  2. Cabral CE, Klein MRST. Phytosterols in the Treatment of Hypercholesterolemia and Prevention of Cardiovascular DiseasesArq Bras Cardiol. 2017;109(5):475-482. doi:10.5935/abc.20170158

  3. American Heart Association. Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

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