The Cholesterol-Friendly Grocery List

Forget your former throw-whatever-looks-good-into-the-cart approach and bring this list next time you head to the supermarket. Stocking your pantry with

Forget your former throw-whatever-looks-good-into-the-cart approach and bring this list next time you head to the supermarket. Stocking your pantry with these heart healthy choices will set you up for cholesterol-success.

For the cupboard

  • Canned beans, such as black, white, pinto, garbanzo, and kidney.*
  • Dried fruits, such as figs, raisins, prunes, apricots, and dates.
  • Whole wheat flour for baking.
  • Apple sauce for baking.*
  • A good bottle of virgin or extra virgin olive oil.
  • Canola oil.
  • Canned salmon and water-packed tuna.*
  • Canned clams.*
  • Canned sardines.*
  • Canned fruit packed in its own juices or in light syrup.*
  • Quick-cooking or old-fashioned oatmeal, but not the instant kind.
  • Whole grain mix for pancakes and waffles.
  • Cans of chopped tomatoes flavored with herbs, onions, or garlic for tossing with pasta.*
  • Peanut butter (the natural kind, made without hydrogenated oil or added sugar).*
  • Jarred artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, and flavorful spreads, all of which can add pizzazz to pasta, rice, couscous, or other grains.*

*Refrigerate after opening

For the fridge

  • Low-fat mayonnaise.
  • Hard, flavorful cheeses like Romano or Parmesan.
  • A sterol-based spread such as Benecol or Take Control, or a margarine free of trans fats (such as Smart Balance).

For the freezer

  • Frozen veggie or soy burgers.
  • Frozen turkey meatballs.
  • Frozen vegetables in bags.
  • Frozen berries.
  • Fillets of frozen fish, not breaded (slip unthawed pieces into simmering poaching liquid for a fast meal).

Fruits and vegetables

  • At least one fruit or vegetable of every color: red, green, orange, and yellow.
  • Avocados.
  • Garlic.
  • Eggplant and mushrooms (for meatless meals).
  • Bags of prewashed lettuce.
  • Bags of baby carrots.
  • Precut vegetables.
  • Something new for you, like mango, star fruit, jicama, or bok choy.

Breads and grains

  • Bread with the word “whole” in the first ingredient.
  • Cereal with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Brown rice (regular or Minute Rice).
  • Other grains, such as bulgur, barley, and quinoa.
  • Whole wheat pasta.
  • For a splurge, buy fresh-baked rounds of sourdough, rosemary, or olive bread for dipping in olive oil.

Meat and poultry

  • Extra lean loin and round cuts.
  • Chicken breasts.
  • Ground turkey.
  • Free-range meats, if you can find them (they’re generally lower in fat).
  • Game meats.


  • Fresh fish, especially salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
  • Fresh shrimp, oysters, clams, crabs, or mussels.


  • Low-fat cheese.
  • Strong-flavored cheeses like blue and feta.
  • Nonfat or low-fat yogurt.
  • Nonfat milk (low-fat is okay if you’re not ready to drop all the way to nonfat just yet).
  • Eggs enriched with omega-3 fatty acids.


  • Firm tofu.
  • Soy crumbles (found in the frozen food section).
  • Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds.
  • Flaxseed, available in health food stores and some grocery stores.
  • Wheat germ.


  • Capers.
  • Hot sauces.
  • Spicy mustard.
  • Prechopped garlic and ginger.
  • Low-fat vinegar-based salad dressings and marinades.
  • Plum sauce, black bean sauce, and other Asian sauces for vegetable stir-fries.


  • Vegetable juice or 100 percent fruit juice.
  • Green or black tea.
  • Wine.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest