Lowering your cholesterol levels is an integral part of overall heart health. Diet can go a long way in improving your cholesterol numbers, but many of us are unclear as to what foods to consume and which to avoid.
A general rule is to avoid foods high in saturated fat, processed foods, and fatty foods, but how do we integrate these diet changes into our daily life?
Here you will find simple diet swaps that can help you reduce your cholesterol numbers while still allowing you to enjoy food.
Diet swaps to help reduce cholesterol
Swap #1 – full-fat milk to skim milk: Full fat milk is high in saturated fat, which is known to contribute to high cholesterol levels. To progress to making the switch, you may want to start with semi-skimmed milk in your cereal and coffee and eventually move along to skimmed milk.
Swap #2 – cookies to nuts: Your 3:00 p.m. cookie craving is high in saturated fat along with sugar and other ingredients that are generally not good for you. Instead, opt for unsalted nuts, which are stacked with nutrients and help to reduce cholesterol.
Swap #3 – meat to pulses: You don’t need to completely eliminate meat, but it may be a good idea a few nights a week to take a break from meat and eat pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas.) Pulses are high in protein and fiber, which is known to help reduce cholesterol levels.
Swap #4 – sugary breakfast cereals with porridge: Another high fiber food, porridge is far healthier than most sugary breakfast cereals because it doesn’t contain artificial sugar, which can leave you with low energy.
Swap #5 – pork stir fry for tofu stir fry: Pork is high in cholesterol if you don’t trim the fat prior to cooking. Tofu, on the other hand, contains plenty of plant isoflavones, which can help lower LDL cholesterol that leads to plaque build-up and blockages in the arteries.
Swap #6 – creamy salad dressing with olive oil: Cream-based dressings are high in calories and saturated fat. The serving sizes of these bottles are far less than what people actually use, so you end up over-consuming these dressings, increasing your intake of calories and saturated fat. Olive oil, on the other hand, is high in monosaturated fat, which is known to help cholesterol levels.
Swap #7 – dessert to fresh fruit: Really, would anyone pass up a cake for fruit? Probably not, but if you’re struggling with your cholesterol levels, then it’s a swap you should really make. But fruit doesn’t have to be boring. There are plenty of ways to make fruit taste more like dessert like cooking apples or pears, or making desserts that are fruit based and low in sugar.
Swap #8 – white wine to red wine: Studies have revealed that red wine is more likely to improve cholesterol levels compared to white wine. But keep in mind, moderation is key when it comes to alcohol because too much wine can actually hurt your health over time. It might raise blood pressure, hurting your liver and leading to health complications.
By making these simple diet swaps, you can start enjoying lowering cholesterol levels all while keeping your heart healthy.