High Cholesterol: Stocking a Heart-Healthy Kitchen

The Cleveland Clinic

If you want to eat a heart-healthy diet but are not sure what foods you should buy, check out this heart-healthy kitchen essentials guide. From fruits and vegetables to whole grain goodness, learn what foods to keep on hand.

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

Fill your fridge with seasonal fruits, such as berries, oranges, apples, pears and grapes, and vegetables, such as bell peppers, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, tomatoes, dark leafy greens, celery, eggplant, zucchini and squash.

Dairy and Dairy Alternatives

  • Skim or 1% milk
  • Soymilk (plain, unsweetened, vanilla or chocolate)
  • Low fat or nonfat buttermilk
  • Nonfat half and half or nonfat creamers
  • Nonfat or reduced fat cheese (bricks, slices or shredded)
  • Soy-based cheeses (bricks, slices or shredded)
  • Nonfat or light cream cheese
  • Nonfat or 1% fat cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
  • Nonfat or 1% fat yogurt (includes fruited, vanilla or plain)
  • Soy-based yogurts
  • Nonfat sour cream
  • Egg substitutes, egg whites

Meat, Poultry, Fish & Meat Substitutes

  • Skinless, boneless chicken or turkey breasts and tenders
  • Skinless, white breast meat ground chicken or turkey
  • Pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
  • Lean ground beef such as ground round or ground sirloin (Note: When buying beef, look for words like "round" or "loin" and choose lean cuts -- the less marbling, the lower the fat content.)
  • Assorted fish: salmon, mackerel, tilapia, trout, herring, tuna
  • Tofu silken, firm or extra firm
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan

Frozen Foods

  • Frozen vegetables and vegetable blends without added sauces, gravies, and added sodium
  • Frozen fruits without added sugar (for example, frozen blueberries, strawberries or raspberries)
  • Frozen soybeans (Edamame)
  • Frozen vegetarian burgers, sausage patties or links (For example, Boca Burgers, Yves, Morningstar Farms or Gardenburger)
  • Reduced fat and sodium vegetarian chili, burritos and entrees like Amys Organic and Health Valley.

Fats, Cooking Oils

  • Assorted cooking oils (olive, canola, walnut, grapeseed, peanut and sesame)
  • Non-fat cooking sprays (for example, Spectrum Naturals, PAM)
  • Baking fat replacements (for example, pureed prunes, applesauce, or Smuckers Healthy Bake)
  • Non-hydrogenated shortening (for example, Spectrum Naturals)
  • Trans-free liquid or tub margarine (for example, Take Control, Benecol, Fleishmanns Light, Smart Balance)
  • Reduced fat or nonfat salad dressings

Herbs, Seasonings & Spices

Here are some delicious seasonings to take the place of salt:

  • Allspice
  • Basil
  • Bay Leaves
  • Black pepper
  • Caraway seeds
  • Cayenne
  • Chili powder
  • Chinese five-spice
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Dill
  • Garlic powder
  • Ginger, ground
  • Italian seasoning
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Nutmeg
  • Onion powder
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Rosemary
  • Assorted sodium-free Mrs. Dash seasonings


  • Splenda, Equal, Nutra Sweet, Sugar Twin and/or Brown Sugar Twin (sugar substitutes)
  • Sugar free or "light" maple syrups
  • Honey
  • Brown rice syrup for a sweetening alternative to use when baking

Pantry Essentials


  • Assorted raw nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds)
  • Dried fruits
  • Whole grain breads, tortillas, pitas
  • Whole grain, trans-fat free crackers (such as Health Valley whole wheat crackers, Kashi TLC crackers, Reduced Fat Triscuits, Fat Free Rye Crisp, Wasa)
  • Baked, trans-fat free tortilla chips
  • Brown rice cakes, popcorn cakes
  • Whole grain pretzels (such as Snyders oat bran or honey wheat)
  • Plain popcorn or light (98% fat free) microwave popcorn


  • Assorted vinegars: rice, red wine, balsamic, apple cider, raspberry. These make delicious salad dressings.
  • Reduced sodium ketchup
  • Assorted mustards: whole grain, honey, Dijon, yellow
  • Reduced sodium soy sauce
  • Reduced fat or nonfat mayonnaise
  • Barbecue sauce

Beans, Grains, Sauces

  • Assorted canned beans such as lentils, kidney, garbanzo, pinto and black beans (Note: Choose low or reduced sodium if you have high blood pressure.)
  • Dried beans (lentils, split peas, garbanzo beans, black beans)
  • Reduced-sodium soups with beans (for example, Health Valley)
  • Vegetarian chili beans (for example, Westbrae Naturals or Health Valley)
  • Vegetarian or nonfat refried beans
  • Rolled, steel cut or Irish oats
  • Oat bran
  • Whole or ground flaxseeds
  • Whole-grain cold cereals (Note: Choose cereals that contain 5 or more grams of dietary fiber and fewer than 8 grams of sugar per serving.)
  • Barley
  • Brown rice, wild rice and/or brown basmati rice
  • Grains such as wheat berries, couscous, polenta, millet, bulgur or quinoa (pronounced keen-wa)
  • Whole wheat, spelt or kamut pastas (Note: These whole grain pastas come in bowtie, fettuccini, lasagna, spaghetti, fusili, spiral, elbow macaroni and ravioli varieties.)
  • Wheat germ
  • Whole-wheat flour and whole-wheat pastry flour
  • Soy flour
  • Cornmeal
  • Reduced sodium canned diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Low-fat or fat-free pasta sauce
  • Reduced sodium chicken, beef and vegetable broths
  • 98% fat free cream of mushroom or chicken soups (for example, Campbells Healthy Request)

Reviewed by the doctors in the Department of Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation at The Cleveland Clinic Heart Center.

Edited by Cynthia Haines, MD, WebMD, August 2004.

Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2005


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Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005