Following the Mediterranean diet is a delicious and healthy way to lower your cholesterol and improve your heart health.

Emily Lachtrupp, M.S., R.D., C.D.
March 23, 2020

In this healthy Mediterranean meal plan to lower cholesterol, you'll eat deliciously while lowering high cholesterol levels and boosting your heart health. In this healthy meal plan, we followed the principles of the Mediterranean diet to help you lower your "bad" LDL cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels while subsequently increasing your "good" HDL cholesterol levels by featuring plenty of fiber-rich produce, whole grains and plant-based proteins, healthy fats (from olive oil, fatty fish, nuts and seeds), while limiting added sugar and saturated fat. Another key factor in improving cholesterol levels? Exercise and weight loss. To promote a healthy weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week, we set this plan at 1,200 calories a day and included modifications to bump up the calories to 1,500 or 2,000 calories a day, depending on your needs.

Read More: 8 Ways to Follow the Mediterranean Diet for Better Health

What Causes High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is caused by a combination of genetics and lifestyle. Diet and exercise certainly play a role. People who have a high intake of saturated fat and processed foods tend to have higher cholesterol, as do those who are fairly inactive. Another risk factor is being overweight. More fat on our bodies tends to increase fat (cholesterol) in our blood, which can ultimately build up and block our arteries. Genetics also play a significant role—if other people in your family have high cholesterol, it's likely that you will as well. Because there aren't any obvious cholesterol symptoms to pinpoint, the best way to know your numbers is to talk to your doctor and get a test.

See More: High Cholesterol Diet Guidelines

How Does the Mediterranean Diet Help Lower Cholesterol?

The Mediterranean diet is a perfect choice if you're trying to lower your cholesterol. Because it emphasizes plant-based protein—like beans, nuts and lentils, whole grains, fish and fruits and vegetables, it's naturally high in fiber, which can help lower your cholesterol levels. Plus, it keeps your digestive system moving and keeps you full so you're less likely to feel hungry throughout the day. The diet is also low in saturated fat and refined grains and sugars, all of which can raise your cholesterol.

Mediterranean Diet Foods to Eat to Lower Cholesterol

  • Fruits, especially berries and fruit with skin, like pears, apples, peaches and so on
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains, like quinoa, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread and pasta, and brown rice
  • Beans and lentils
  • Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Herbs and spices

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:

Here's what you can do to get ahead for the week to make your busy weekdays easier. And don't forget to print off the shopping list!

  1. Make 2 servings of Apple-Cinnamon Overnight Oats to have for breakfast on Days 2 and 3.
  2. Prepare Crispy Chickpea Grain Bowl with Lemon Vinaigrette to have for lunch on Days 2 through 5.
Shopping List

Day 1

Breakfast (279 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 small peach, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

A.M. Snack (101 calories)

  • 1 medium pear

Lunch (360 calories)

P.M. Snack (62 calories)

  • 1 cup blackberries

Dinner (405 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,208 calories, 74 g protein, 119 g carbohydrates, 32 g fiber, 54 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 922 mg sodium

Make it 1,500 calories: Add 1 whole-wheat English muffin with 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to breakfast and add 1 clementine to lunch.

Make it 2,000 calories: Include all the modifications for the 1,500-calorie day, plus add 1/3 cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack and add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner.

Day 2

Breakfast (250 calories)

A.M. Snack (37 calories)

  • 1 medium bell pepper, sliced

Lunch (370 calories)

P.M. Snack (133 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

Dinner (415 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,204 calories, 55 g protein, 150 g carbohydrates, 34 g fiber, 48 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 1,369 mg sodium

Make it 1,500 calories: Add 1 slice whole-wheat bread with 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter and 1/3 cup hummus to A.M. snack.

Make it 2,000 calories: Include all the modifications for the 1,500-calorie day, plus add 1 clementine to lunch, add 1/3 cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack, and add 1/2 an avocado to dinner.

Day 3

Breakfast (250 calories)

A.M. Snack (77 calories)

  • 1 small apple

Lunch (370 calories)

P.M. Snack (8 calories)

  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
  • Pinch of salt & pepper

Dinner (513 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,219 calories, 53 g protein, 139 g carbohydrates, 30 g fiber, 54 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1,641 mg sodium

Make it 1,500 calories: Add 1 slice whole-wheat bread with 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter and 1 medium pear to lunch.

Make it 2,000 calories: Include all the modifications for the 1,500-calorie day, plus increase to 2 slices whole-wheat bread with 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter at breakfast, add 1/3 cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack, and add 1 medium orange to lunch.

Day 4

Breakfast (279 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 small peach, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

A.M. Snack (101 calories)

  • 1 medium pear

Lunch (370 calories)

P.M. Snack (62 calories)

  • 1 cup blackberries

Dinner (370 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,182 calories, 74 g protein, 137 g carbohydrates, 31 g fiber, 43 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 1,255 mg sodium

Make it 1,500 calories: Add 1/3 cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack and add 1 clementine to lunch.

Make it 2,000 calories: Include all the modifications for the 1,500-calorie day, plus add 1 small apple to breakfast, add 1 whole-wheat English muffin with 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to P.M. snack, and increase to 2 servings Basic Quinoa at dinner.

Meal-Prep Tip: Prepare 3 servings Apple-Cinnamon Overnight Oats to have for breakfast on Days 5 through 7 and soak 1 1/2 cups dry chickpeas overnight for the Slow-Cooker Mediterranean Chicken & Chickpea Soup. Tomorrow, cook the soup on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours so it's ready in time for dinner.

Day 5

Breakfast (250 calories)

A.M. Snack (62 calories)

  • 1 medium orange

Lunch (370 calories)

P.M. Snack (95 calories)

  • 1 medium apple

Dinner (446 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,223 calories, 54 g protein, 174 g carbohydrates, 36 g fiber, 38 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 1,482 mg sodium

Make it 1,500 calories: Add 1/3 cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack.

Make it 2,000 calories: Include all the modifications for the 1,500-calorie day, plus increase to 2 clementines at breakfast, add 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to P.M. snack, and add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner.

Meal-Prep Tip: Reserve 2 servings Slow-Cooker Mediterranean Chicken & Chickpea Soup to have for lunch on Days 6 and 7.

Day 6

Breakfast (250 calories)

A.M. Snack (31 calories)

  • 1/2 cup blackberries

Lunch (446 calories)

P.M. Snack (32 calories)

  • 1/2 cup raspberries

Dinner (441 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,200 calories, 70 g protein, 144 g carbohydrates, 33 g fiber, 38 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 1,526 mg sodium

Make it 1,500 calories: Add 1 whole-wheat English muffin with 1 1/2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to P.M. snack.

Make it 2,000 calories: Include the modification for the 1,500-calorie day, plus add 1/3 cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack and add 1 medium pear to lunch.

Day 7

Breakfast (250 calories)

A.M. Snack (95 calories)

  • 1 medium apple

Lunch (446 calories)

P.M. Snack (35 calories)

  • 1 clementine

Dinner (379 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,205 calories, 64 g protein, 178 g carbohydrates, 33 g fiber, 32 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 1,476 mg sodium

Make it 1,500 calories: Add 1 whole-wheat English muffin with 1 1/2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to P.M. snack.

Make it 2,000 calories: Include the modification for the 1,500-calorie day, plus add 1/3 cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack, add 1 large pear to lunch, and add a 1-oz. slice of whole-wheat baguette to dinner.

Advertisement