High cholesterol levels can bring major health setbacks—heart diseases, stroke and atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque in artery walls). But you can bring high cholesterol levels down by eating wisely and adopting a more active lifestyle. The American Heart Association recommends a low saturated fat, low cholesterol, low-fat dairy product diet, while increasing foods with heart-healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), fiber and whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

The following recipes incorporate foods that will keep bad cholesterol level down, while raising good cholesterol to help you keep a healthy lipid profile.

Avocado Tomato Salad

Avocados, olive oil and walnuts contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that help fight bad cholesterol.

• 1 avocado, cut into cubes
• 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
• 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
• a handful of walnuts

Whisk the following ingredients together in a bowl:
• 1 tablespoon of olive oil
• 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1/2 teaspoon chopped oregano or a dash of dried oregano

  1. Put avocado, tomatoes, onion and walnuts into a big bowl.
  2. Add dressing and toss well.

Tofu and Vegetable Stir-fry

Antioxidant-rich vegetables are full of fiber. Fiber binds to bad cholesterol and helps to eliminate it from the body. Soy-based tofu is an excellent protein substitute, and it helps lower cholesterol levels, according to a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

• 5 stalks of bok choy, cut lengthwise
• 1 red pepper, sliced
• 1 carrot, sliced
• 1 slab of firm tofu, cut into cubes
• 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
• 1 tablespoon of vegetarian oyster sauce
• Salt and pepper

  1. Coat wok with sesame oil.
  2. Add chopped garlic. Saute until light brown.
  3. Add tofu and vegetables, followed by oyster sauce. Saute 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, and remove from wok to prevent overcooking.

Cilantro Garlic Salmon and Quinoa

Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart-friendly polyunsaturated fats. Cilantro is high in antioxidants, and garlic not only adds flavor, but also it contains allicin, a bad cholesterol buster.

• 2 pieces of salmon, about 5 oz. each
• 3 sprigs of cilantro, finely chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic, minced
• Sea salt
• Pepper
• A squeeze of lemon

  1. Marinade salmon with cilantro, garlic, sea salt and pepper.
  2. Coat pan with olive oil.
  3. Panfry salmon, about 5 minutes on each side.
  4. Move salmon to plate and squeeze lemon to add zest.

A good alternative to rice or potatoes, quinoa is high in fiber and nutrients. The viscous fibers in quinoa help reduce bad cholesterol.

• 2 teaspoon of olive oil
• 1 cup of quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
• 1 bunch of scallions, cut into 1” length
• 2 cups of low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth

  1. Heat oil in saucepan.
  2. Add quinoa and toast it for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add broth and bring it to a boil.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes or until tender.

Serve quinoa with salmon and salad.