Improve heart health and kick inflammation to the curb in this 7-day anti-inflammatory meal plan to lower cholesterol.
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In the United States, nearly 98 million adults have high cholesterol and heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death. For years, the emphasis was on low-fat diets with little thought on overall nutrition quality to lower cholesterol. However, current research suggests a more comprehensive (and frankly, tastier) approach by emphasizing the anti-inflammatory diet. This Mediterranean-style diet hits on many of the nutrition factors that influence our heart health. Of course, it includes anti-inflammatory foods, which help to prevent plaque build-up, plus it's high in fiber and healthy fats, which raise good HDL cholesterol and lower less healthy LDL cholesterol. Not to mention it's delicious, with a full week of healthy, easy meals, from breakfast to dinner.

Because weight loss plays a role in improving cholesterol numbers and lowering inflammation, we set this plan at 1,500 calories a day. If you have different calorie needs, we also included modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories per day.

Why is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet Good for High Cholesterol?

Long-term inflammation in our bodies contributes to the build-up of LDL cholesterol (AKA bad cholesterol or plaque) in our blood vessels, leading to high-cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease. While our cholesterol levels are influenced by genetics, diet and exercise certainly play a role. The anti-inflammatory diet is a great choice to improve overall health and wellness but is particularly potent in reducing cholesterol and improving heart health.

Its inclusion of anti-inflammatory foods helps improve blood flow and reduce plaque, which lowers risk of heart disease. Plus, it focuses on fiber-packed plant-based foods like beans, lentils, whole grains and plenty of fruit and vegetables. Fiber is an all-star unassuming nutrient that plays a role in reducing unhealthy LDL cholesterol and raising good HDL cholesterol but it also regulates our digestive system, improves blood sugar balance and helps keep our body at a healthy weight by helping us feel more satisfied on fewer calories. Lastly, the anti-inflammatory diet includes tons of healthy fats from salmon, olive oil, avocado and nuts and seeds to provide flavor and satiety to our meals.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat More Of

  • Nuts and seeds (including natural nut and seeds butters—look for those that include no added ingredients other than salt)
  • Chia and flax
  • Avocado
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Fish, especially salmon, tuna, pollock, sardines and halibut
  • Beans and lentils
  • Leafy greens
  • Beets
  • Fruit, especially blue, purple and red fruits (pomegranate, cherries and berries)
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic and onions
  • Spices and herbs
  • Whole grains (quinoa, whole-wheat, oats, bulgur)

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:

  1. Make Chopped Salad with Chickpeas, Olives & Feta to have for lunch on Days 2 through 5.

Day 1

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Breakfast (262 calories)

A.M. Snack (291 calories)

  • 1 medium apple
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter

Lunch (355 calories)

P.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 10 dried walnut halves

Dinner (478 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,517 calories, 86g protein, 74g fat, 10g saturated fat, 144g carbohydrate, 34g fiber, 1,283mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Omit the almond butter at the A.M. snack and change the P.M. snack to 1 clementine.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 serving Berry-Kefir Smoothie to breakfast, increase to 3 Tbsp. almond butter at the A.M. snack plus increase to 15 dried walnut halves at the P.M. snack.

Day 2

Cherry-Mocha Smoothie

Breakfast (272 calories)

A.M. Snack

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

Lunch (351 calories)

P.M. Snack (206 calories)

  • ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Dinner (446 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,511 calories, 72g protein, 70g fat, 10g saturated fat, 166g carbohydrate, 37g fiber, 1,501mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Omit the blueberries and walnuts at the A.M. snack plus change the P.M. snack to 1/4 cup cucumber.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 serving Peanut Butter & Chia Berry Jam English Muffin to breakfast plus add 2 Tbsp. almond butter to the apple at lunch.

Day 3

Roasted Chicken & Winter Squash over Mixed Greens

Breakfast (262 calories)

A.M. Snack (206 calories)

  • ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Lunch (351 calories)

P.M. Snack (247 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain kefir
  • 12 dried walnut halves

Dinner (415 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,481 calories, 72g protein, 74g fat, 10g saturated fat, 151g carbohydrate, 32g fiber, 1,351mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Change the A.M. snack to 1 medium orange and omit the walnuts at the P.M. snack.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 serving Berry-Kefir Smoothie to breakfast and add 2 Tbsp. almond butter to the apple at lunch.

Day 4

Chopped Salad with Chickpeas, Olives & Feta
Credit: Kelsey Hansen

Breakfast (292 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

A.M. Snack (62 calories)

  • 1 cup blackberries

Lunch (351 calories)

P.M. Snack (337 calories)

  • ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds
  • 1 large pear

Dinner (446 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,488 calories, 80g protein, 78g fat, 11g saturated fat, 131g carbohydrate, 34g fiber, 996mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Change the P.M. snack to 1 medium orange.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 15 dried walnut halves to the A.M. snack, increase to 1/3 cup almonds at the P.M. snack plus add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad.

Day 5

Kale & Quinoa Salad with Lemon Dressing
Credit: Photography / Antonis Achilleos, Styling / Christine Keely, Ali Ramee

Breakfast (272 calories)

A.M. Snack (228 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

Lunch (351 calories)

P.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 1 large pear

Dinner (496 calories)

Meal-Prep Tip: Reserve two servings Kale & Quinoa Salad with Lemon Dressing to have for lunch on Days 6 & 7.

Daily Totals: 1,479 calories, 65g protein, 60g fat, 10g saturated fat, 186g carbohydrate, 34g fiber, 1,356mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Reduce to 1/2 cup yogurt and omit the walnuts at the A.M. snack plus change the P.M. snack to 1 clementine.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 serving Berry-Kefir Smoothie to breakfast, increase to 3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts at the A.M. snack plus add 2 Tbsp. almond butter to the apple at lunch.

Day 6

Crispy Lemon-Garlic Chicken Thighs with Roasted Potatoes & Carrots

Breakfast (272 calories)

A.M. Snack (291 calories)

  • 1 medium apple
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter

Lunch (400 calories)

P.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 1 large pear

Dinner (413 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,507 calories, 62g protein, 69g fat, 11g saturated fat, 179g carbohydrates, 37g fiber, 1,296mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Change the A.M. snack to 1/2 cup sliced cucumber.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 serving Peanut Butter & Chia Berry Jam English Muffin to breakfast and add 1/4 cup dry-roasted almonds to the P.M. snack.

Day 7

White Bean Soup with Tomato & Shrimp

Breakfast (262 calories)

A.M. Snack (121 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain kefir
  • ½ cup blackberries

Lunch (400 calories)

P.M. Snack (206 calories)

  • ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Dinner (511 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,500 calories, 65g protein, 84g fat, 11g saturated fat, 139g carbohydrate, 38g fiber, 1,415mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Omit the kefir at the A.M. snack and change the P.M. snack to 1/4 sliced cucumber.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 serving Berry-Kefir Smoothie to breakfast and add 15 dried walnut halves to the A.M. snack.