Health experts recommend limiting cholesterol intake, but many high-protein foods also contain high levels of dietary cholesterol. How do you get the protein you need without going over your limit? Here are 5 low-cholesterol foods that are also high in protein.
Beans are an excellent choice for protein that is cholesterol-free and full of fiber. Don’t be afraid to try different beans, and get creative with how you use them in recipes. Stewed garbanzo beans, pinto beans, or cannellini beans are ideal with a side of sautéed kale and brown rice. They are also delicious blended into bean dips. Seek out fun, heirloom varieties and experiment with cooking dried beans in the slow cooker. Cranberry beans and black Calypso beans are two varieties that can add fun to your meal. (1 cup cooked black beans: 227 calories, 0 mg cholesterol, 15.2 g protein)
Many of the healthy, whole grains eaten today are considered grains for culinary purposes, but they originate from protein-rich seeds. In fact, quinoa is considered a complete protein meaning it contains all the essential amino acids. Other grains that provide protein include amaranth, millet, and wheat berries. (1 cup cooked quinoa: 190 calories, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 g protein)
Similar to beans, lentils provide protein while also being low in cholesterol. An added bonus is that they contain over 15 grams of fiber in one cup cooked. Don’t get stuck in a lentil rut. There are numerous types available that will add variety to salads, soups, and stews. Try French green lentils, black lentils, or yellow lentils. (1 cup cooked lentils: 229 calories, 0 mg cholesterol, 17.9 g protein)
Nuts and Seeds
Shelled nuts and seeds require no preparation -- making them a great protein-rich snack. They also provide plenty of heart-healthy fat without cholesterol. Try cashews, pistachios, or walnuts. Protein-rich seeds include sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. (1 ounce of pistachio nuts: 157 calories, 0 mg cholesterol, 5.8 g protein)
Minimally refined soy products, such as fermented tofu, offer plenty of protein without cholesterol. The benefit of soy-based foods for protection against cancer and heart disease is still a topic of scientific debate. However, tofu is full of vitamins and minerals, and can serve as a high protein, low cholesterol substitute for meats. Tofu can be grilled, roasted, or cooked in stir-fries. (3 ounces firm tofu: 70 calories, 0 mg cholesterol, 8 g protein)