Search IconSearch

Low-Cholesterol Breakfast Ideas

Who doesn’t love a good breakfast? Just make sure it’s loving you back

yogurt and fruit healthy breakfast

There’s nothing like a hearty breakfast to start your day. Bacon, biscuits, buttery grits — oh my! When it comes to the first meal of the day, the tempting taste sensations are pretty much endless. On the downside, though, a lot of our favorite breakfast go-tos can be loaded with cholesterol.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

When you’re brunching it up or grabbing a quick bite before work, what should you reach for? Registered dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CCSD, LD, shares some good brekkie picks and watch-outs to help keep your cholesterol under control.

Breakfast foods that are high in cholesterol

When it comes to cholesterol content, Patton says these foods can be the worst breakfast offenders.

Breakfast sandwiches

“The combination of egg, cheese and bacon/sausage can be a major source of cholesterol. And if they are cooked in butter or served on a croissant, that adds even more cholesterol,” says Patton.

Coffee drinks

Your morning perk-me-up could be doing more harm than good if it’s dressed up with all the extras. Patton says lattes with whole milk and whipped cream are another source of cholesterol.

The alternatives aren’t much better

You’ve been stocking up on that organic chicken sausage and feeling pretty darn proud about it, too. Good effort, but you still have to watch out for cholesterol. “People often think that turkey bacon, turkey sausage or chicken sausage are better options. However, they only have slightly less cholesterol than pork or beef counterparts,” Patton explains.

Low cholesterol breakfast foods you should consider

You hear “breakfast” and your mind goes to the usual hits — pancakes, cereal, toast, eggs or maybe a smoothie. But you might want to start thinking globally instead of locally when it comes to switching up your a.m. rotation.

Mediterranean ingredients

“A lot of cultures start their day with beans, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, extra-virgin olive oil and pita bread. While we might consider these as non-traditional breakfast items, they’re good because they don’t have cholesterol and will provide steady energy throughout your morning,” Patton says.


You might add it to morning smoothies or enjoy yogurt parfaits for breakfast. But yogurt isn’t always an obvious choice for many.

“Yogurt is a common food for breakfast, but some may not consider it. Depending on its fat content, there may be some cholesterol in it but not a lot,” notes Patton. If you go for yogurt in the morning, she suggests choosing one that doesn’t have added sugar. Instead, add fruit to sweeten it with natural sugar, along with additional flavors and textures from oats, nuts, ground flaxseed and chia seeds.

Other low-cholesterol breakfast foods to keep on-hand

What are some low-cholesterol breakfast staples that we should always keep around the house? Patton recommends the following:

  • Avocados.
  • Cheerios™.
  • Fruit.
  • Natural nut butters (almond, cashew, peanut, etc.).
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Oatmeal.
  • Shredded wheat.
  • Whole-grain or sprouted-grain bread.
  • Yogurt with no added sugar.

Low-Cholesterol Breakfast Recipes

Change doesn’t have to be hard. Here’s some low-cholesterol breakfast inspiration to get you started.


Chia and Berry Breakfast Pudding

This hearty option is good if you’re looking for an alternative to eggs or even smoothies. You can make it ahead of time and it’s a great source of protein, fiber, omega-3 fats and important minerals. Get the berry breakfast pudding recipe here.

Overnight Oats

Since Patton mentioned keeping oats around the house, you might as well get creative with them. Overnight oats are a good solution when you need something quick and filling but don’t want to cook. And the flavor combinations are endless. Here are seven overnight oat recipes to try.

Avocado Toast

As we all know, avocado toast has become a brunch delight over the last few years. But you don’t need to make a reservation to enjoy it. Make this flavorful version of avocado toast at home in minutes. It has no cholesterol and is loaded with phytonutrients and healthy fats.

Veggie Omelet “Muffins”

We know, we know. Those breakfast egg sandwiches can get us into trouble. So here’s a savory alternative in “muffin” form. This combination of egg whites/egg substitute, low-fat cheese and fresh vegetables are simple to make and low in calories and fat. You can enjoy these veggie omelet “muffins” for breakfast with a side of fresh berries or have them for lunch with a nice tossed salad.

How much cholesterol should you eat?

Cholesterol is naturally produced by your body, so we should try avoiding it in the foods we eat. Your body uses cholesterol to make bile, a fluid that your liver makes to digest fat in your intestines. Your body also uses cholesterol to make vitamin D and hormones like testosterone and estrogen.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Daily Value (DV) for cholesterol is less than 300 milligrams (mg) per day. When you’re looking at nutritional labels, keep in mind that 5% DV of cholesterol or less would be considered low. If a food has 20% or more cholesterol per serving, that’s considered high.

Sources of dietary cholesterol

In Patton’s words, it’s simple. “Dietary cholesterol only comes from animal sources. So, if it comes from an animal, it has cholesterol.”

Here are some cholesterol culprits:

  • Beef fat.
  • Cheese.
  • Chicken fat.
  • Egg yolks.
  • Meats and poultry.
  • Milk.
  • Pork fat/lard.
  • Processed meats and poultry products (bacon, hot dogs, jerky, some lunch meats and sausage).
  • Shellfish (lobster and shrimp).
  • Spreads (butter, cream cheese and sour cream).

Why it’s important to keep your diet in check

“A diet high in animal fat, saturated fat and cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes and obesity. It is important to assess how much animal fat you are consuming and try to replace it with plant-based foods instead,” says Patton.


Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Variety of cereals in different bowls
Here’s What To Know About Choosing Cereal if You Have Diabetes

There are better breakfast options, but if it’s got to be cereal, look for whole grains, high fiber and no added sugar

Cholesterol blocking blood flow in artery
February 26, 2024/Heart Health
What It Means if You Have ‘Sticky’ Cholesterol

LDL cholesterol and lipoprotein (a) cholesterol are more likely to stick to your arteries and lead to dangerous heart events

A bowl of high fiber lentil salad
March 10, 2023/Nutrition
31 High-Fiber Foods You Should Be Eating

From blackberries to barley, healthy high-fiber foods are plentiful

bowl of cereal
January 19, 2023/Nutrition
How To Pick a Healthy Cereal

Whole-grain options low in sugar and sodium form the foundation of a good-for-you breakfast

A white bowl filled with hot oatmeal and fresh raspberries and blueberries on a white plate.
November 18, 2022/Nutrition
Is Oatmeal Always Healthy for Breakfast?

It’s hard to beat the benefits of oats, but be cautious of sugared-up instant oatmeal options

bowl of buckheat porridge and fruit
October 28, 2022/Nutrition
7 Healthy Grains To Try for Breakfast

Move over oatmeal! It’s time to make room at the table for these grain options

An illustration of two vials labeled "HDL" and "LDL"
March 28, 2022/Diet, Food & Fitness
What’s the Difference Between ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Cholesterol?

Understanding the difference between ‘lousy’ and ‘healthy’ cholesterol can help you keep your heart healthy

A bowl of granola with a big slice of apple
March 8, 2022/Heart Health
How to Naturally Lower Your Cholesterol

From fish to fiber to fitness, a cardiologist shares proven tips

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims