Snacks to Lower Cholesterol
When was the last time you had your cholesterol checked? According to the CDC, around 38% of US adults have high cholesterol. If you haven’t had it checked in awhile, here are reasons that you should:
- Individuals with high cholesterol may experience no indicators or symptoms
- High cholesterol can contribute to strokes and/or heart disease
- High levels of harmful cholesterol in your blood can be genetic
- Certain health conditions like obesity or type 2 diabetes can affect your cholesterol levels
Often called the silent killer, high cholesterol can be a very serious medical condition. It’s important to always consult your doctor on how to lower your cholesterol — they may need to prescribe you medication. Also, you should never discontinue your cholesterol medication unless instructed by a doctor — a change of diet may not be enough to improve your numbers.
That being said, adjusting your diet to lower your cholesterol levels may be encouraged. Here are some low-cholesterol snack ideas.
Foods to Lower Cholesterol
When adjusting your diet to battle high low-density lipoprotein (LDL), aka bad cholesterol, look for these nutrient-packed contenders.
Foods that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat
Good news — you don’t have to avoid fat completely in order to lower your cholesterol. These powerful lipids increase the HDL cholesterol levels in your blood, which in turn helps whisk away LDL. Some “good fat” foods are:
- Fish that contain a high level of Omega-3
- Peanuts and legumes
- Healthy cooking oils
We know white pasta, rice, and bread are the ultimate comfort foods, but switching to whole-grain versions may help you lower your LDL levels. Other healthy whole grains include:
Fruits and veggies
Finding ways to add more fruits and veggies to your meals can help your cholesterol levels and keep you fuller for longer, thanks to their fiber content. Berries, garlic, and dark, leafy greens can give you an extra LDL-fighting punch.
Foods that are rich in soluble fiber
You may notice a theme with all of the foods listed above — they’re packed with fiber. Studies show that fiber can help lower cholesterol levels.
You read that right! A square or two a day may have significant health benefits.
Foods To Avoid With High Cholesterol
Unfortunately, some foods many people enjoy can raise your LDL levels.
- Red meat. Though steaks and burgers can be high in protein, it’s best to eat red meat in moderation. Try swapping beef for turkey or veggie burgers and Ahi tuna steaks instead.
- Processed meat. Our beloved breakfast meats like sausage and bacon can lead to harmful levels of LDL if consumed frequently. Lunch ingredient staples like deli meat can also contribute. Hummus and avocado can make a filling sandwich swap.
- Lard, butter, and full-fat dairy products. Opt for low-fat dairy options and healthy olive, legume, and seed oils instead of butter.
- Fried and sugary foods. We know that fried foods can have a negative impact on your cardiovascular system, but studies show that sugar can raise those LDLs as well.
Low Cholesterol Snacks
You may be looking at the “bad” list above and think you’re kissing your favorite snacks goodbye. Luckily, there are some wholesome alternatives you can add to your diet that will help you not miss all of that saturated fat.
- Avocado toast. There’s a reason why it’s so popular — it’s packed with healthy fats. Tomatoes, olives, or smoked salmon are a great topper. Don’t be scared to add a variety of spices to liven it up!
- Popcorn popped in olive oil. We know it’s hard to give up the butter, but a little olive oil and sea salt make popcorn a savory snack. Add spices like rosemary, chili powder, or everything bagel seasoning to add some flavor.
- Low-fat yogurt parfaits. Plain, low-fat yogurt is the perfect base for adding mixed berries, dark chocolate chips, or a dab of peanut butter. Top with granola for a little crunch!
- Homemade trail mix. Toast some old-fashioned oats in the oven, then mix with your favorite nuts, dark chocolate, and dried fruit.
- Tuna and whole wheat crackers. Canned tuna comes with all sorts of added flavors, like sweet and spicy lemon pepper or jalapeno. They make a great portable snack.
- Dark chocolate almonds. Talk about a decadent treat! Great to enjoy in moderation.
Foods that help lower your bad cholesterol don’t have to be bland. There are many snacks to enjoy that are low in cholesterol and can still satisfy your cravings — you’ll find the ones that are right for you!