Low cholesterol food/recipe suggestions?
January 5, 2017 6:43 AM   Subscribe

My niece has been diagnosed with high cholesterol - does anyone have any recommendations for appealing low cholesterol food? Snowflakes inside.

She's recently started adderall, which seems to be the most effective medicine so far for the ADD. Unfortunately, it has a side effect of making her not want to eat while she is on it. She doesn't take it on the weekends, so we "make up" some there, which is pretty typical for teens on adderall.

She was already very picky with her food choices, and we recently had her physical with full bloodwork. Unfortunately, her cholesterol is high, so they want her to stop eating the fried and fatty foods and to eat more fruits and vegetables. Great! Except the fried and fatty foods are the go to foods that she will normally eat. :( Also, she is lactose intolerant, so she can't do milk (so cereal is out) or yogurt or much cheese.

We can definitely work on fish options, as she normally likes fish. Salads will work as well - we talked about smoothies before, and she likes those.

We tried almond milk, and she's not a fan. We can try soy milk and see if that works, for cereal. She will occasionally eat oatmeal. (She also doesn't like steak, chicken unless it's from Chik-fil-a, pork...)

Does anyone else have any suggestions for low cholesterol food that fits within these boundaries? (Naturally, anything that can just be thrown together or is easy to fix would be ideal - she is less likely to fix something that is difficult in any way. I don't mind doing things on the weekends, but it's my busy time at work, so I may not even be home until 7 or so at night during the week, which is after she eats most of the time.)
posted by needlegrrl to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If she won't eat enough to get a good amount of fiber, she can always take a fiber pill as a supplement.

I have tried every non-dairy milk on the market and find cashew to be the most naturally creamy. You can give that a try. She can also adjust herself to liking almond or soy milk by first putting it in her smoothies and gradually increasing the amount. The flavor won't be overt when mixed in with fruit, but she will be come acclimatized to it.

Vegan food = usually pretty great for cholesterol, so get her pumped using some of these great Buzzfeed lists (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Let her pick out something that appeals to her.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:51 AM on January 5, 2017

She might try Milkadamia, which is macadamia nut based "milk". It is really well done, taste wise, in my opinion, and I'm a dairy lover normally.
posted by gudrun at 7:19 AM on January 5, 2017

Vegan foods do not have cholesterol, so vegan websites are going to have lots of options (not saying she should be vegan, but it's just a relatively easy way to find options). For the most "normal" versions, I'd suggest Post Punk Kitchen. However, even with vegan foods, too much fat can still raise cholesterol. If she needs to go with very low fat, I'd suggest getting the book "Engine 2." I switched to a low-fat vegan diet, and my total cholesterol is now 114 (not a typo) without medication.

Does she like pasta with maranara sauce? There are lots of low-fat sauces in jars. Prego has a "heart-healthy" marinara sauce.

If she likes sandwiches, there are lots of vegan substitutes for lunch meat on the market, but taste can be hit or miss, so she'd need to try different things. Amy's makes some really great frozen burritos and other frozen foods that are relatively low in fat. There are fake hot dogs, but the texture can be off-putting until you get used to it. Gardein fake meat is pretty decent. They have some fake chicken nuggets that you bake, but I'm not sure of the fat content. That would be frozen as well.

Egg yolks are very high in cholesterol, so if you bake, you might want to look into egg substitutes. There are some listed here.
posted by FencingGal at 8:03 AM on January 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

This website has low-fat vegan recipes that are supposed to be more kid friendly. I realize she's not quite a kid, but the "picky eater" designation made it seem like this might help.
posted by FencingGal at 9:19 AM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just as an FYI, changing her diet is a good thing for general health reasons, but I've been dealing with high cholesterol since I was a teen 20 years ago and I've never had normal cholesterol or close to normal cholesterol DEPSITE losing weight, taking Niacin, and changing my diet.

So I'd also gently suggest that while you keep an eye on this and make appropriate changes, know also for a lot of people, there are genetic components for which they have no control over and teen girls have enough issues going on surrounding their looks and physical health that "good enough" should be the rule of the day over "best possible." I had having high cholesterol beaten over my head by doctors and medical practitioners for 20 years. I was told repeatedly I must be doing something wrong if my cholesterol isn't getting lower. Finally when I lost that large amount of weight over the course of a year and my cholesterol didn't budge at all, my then medical provider finally laid off and said, "This must just be you. Your cholesterol should have been affected by this." It's not a license to go out and be crazy, but it was finally some acknowledgement that there's only so much I can do on that score when everything else is near perfect.

That said, you may ask the doctor about Niacin. It's an over the counter thing and it's a one of the best natural statins out there. When it works, it works just as well or better than prescription drugs and is essentially side effect free. There can be some hot flash flushing of the face that goes with it, but I only had that the first week I took it and then it stopped .
posted by zizzle at 9:31 AM on January 5, 2017 [9 favorites]

An update - she also doesn't like red pasta sauce, although she does like alfredo (which has dairy, I know, but apparently some level of discomfort is acceptable to her? Not sure.). I think I can slip in whole wheat pasta pretty easily as well.

I'm certainly not going to hammer it into her - her doc says that we don't need to have it rechecked until December, so it's obviously not any kind of emergency that we get these numbers down. However, I am assuming that they did bloodwork at her last physical, and they never told me her levels were concerning, so this may be a recent thing. Also, we do eat too much of the easy fried foods at home, so it wouldn't hurt to mix more fruits and veggies in. Having a place to start from is great, because when I ask what she would like to eat, I normally get a blank stare. (which is probably standard)

We'll try some of the different milk substitutes - I think she would like to eat cereal, and it would be nice to have the option!

Thanks, everyone. I will ask about the niacin, as well, if levels don't go down.
posted by needlegrrl at 9:41 AM on January 5, 2017

Inositol hexaniacinate is a form of niacin that does not cause flushing. I'm not sure if it lowers cholesterol.
I'm also one who has high cholesterol. When I found out (I could almost hear the doctor thinking "dead man walking"), I went on a very strict low cholesterol diet for months. It made no difference. Your body makes cholesterol and the level is thought to be set by genetics.
BTW, 15 years later, I am alive and apparently healthy.
posted by H21 at 9:54 AM on January 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Lactose free milks like Lactaid taste just like regular cow milk. My supermarket even had their own generic version. Don't let Lactose intolerance keep her from cereal if it's something she'll eat.

As for a low cholesterol diet, most healthy meals will serve you well. MeFi has had a ton of questions about quick healthy meal ideas. I'm on my phone now, but can find some shortly. Look for weekend prep so you can make ahead and all she needs to do is heat something up.

Keep it simple and make it more convenient for her to eat healthy than to eat crap.
posted by hydra77 at 2:32 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you are thinking of whole wheat pasta, Bionaturae brand is really tasty (my pasta loving spouse approves.)
posted by gudrun at 3:25 PM on January 5, 2017

Maybe for your specific needs, a hot-air fryer like an actifry would be really useful. They can do chicken nuggets or wings as well as fried potatoes and vegs, with much less grease.

In my experience, many young people like vegan food. Not just for ethical reasons, it's something about how one's taste is developed at that age, and I certainly remember that from my own life. Look at Mediterranean food, maybe specially food from Greece, Turkey, Syria and Israel. Humus, tabbouleh, fattoush, vegetarian kebabs etc. Chicken kebabs might be good too. When I was young, I liked macrobiotic foods. Now I don't. Try different things and engage her.

I've discovered that picky teens are not that picky, they just need to feel they are still in control. Before Christmas, I ran out of burgers and asked if we could just make lettuce - tomato - [tiny amount of bacon] sandwiches and the young people present were all game. I put out the whole wheat buns, the vegs and the condiments for self service and they were all happy. Same with pizza, my favorite is potato pizza which can be just whole wheat crust, olive oil, potato and rosemary, served with a salad. Get them to make it themselves and they are happy. Soba noodles are also well received. Every variety of tuna salad, on a plate or in a roll is a success, again: specially if they are invited to participate in the process. For a couple of years, my youngest brought soup in a thermos for school lunch - it could be minestrone or a very simple chicken broth.

Strangely, lentil stews are very popular in the mumimor teen-serving kitchen. I still wonder about this, but I've literally never met a child or teen who wouldn't eat lentils after tasting them.
posted by mumimor at 3:47 PM on January 5, 2017

You may be interested in this New York Times article about updated thinking re: dietary cholesterol. TLR: for a majority of people, eating a "low-cholesterol diet" isn't effective at lowering cholesterol. There's a lot of inertia in dietary advice.

Personally, I once spent a year eating vegan, after which my cholesterol and triglycerides tested only slightly better than they did in my bacon double-cheeseburger fueled days. And that dip was probably attributable to being more active and losing some weight. Your niece's mileage may vary, I am not a nutritionist, etc... but you may be looking for the wrong kind of solution to the cholesterol problem. If, indeed, it really is a problem that needs addressing while she's working on the ADHD and, you know, being a teen.
posted by mumkin at 5:45 PM on January 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding Lactaid brand (and store brand) lactose-free milks! I won't say they taste exactly like milk, because they're slightly sweeter since the lactose has been already broken down into glucose and galactase, but they're fine for cooking with and putting in cereal and other milk-needing applications.
posted by telophase at 9:11 AM on January 6, 2017

Thanks for all the suggestions - she will probably like vegan.soy options, and we'll try the Lactaid milk.

I also want to say that I am not taking initiative to change her eating on my own, just following the instructions from her doctor. I won't hound her about it, especially if it doesn't help, but it's a great opportunity to introduce some new foods and veggies into the mix.
posted by needlegrrl at 9:54 AM on January 6, 2017

In case you're still looking for milk substitute recommendations, Califia is the only kind of milk I've really liked (also lactose intolerant). I even personally prefer it to Lactaid brand (my sister is the opposite). It's a million times better than the milk that comes in a carton in the cereal aisle.

I'm also able to tolerate Greek yogurt (I think straining removes some lactose). This varies by person, of course, but may be worth a shot if she's not tried it. Plain Greek+ fruit can be dessert.
posted by ghost phoneme at 7:26 PM on January 11, 2017

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