If you think a low cholesterol diet is another way of saying of low taste, you’re wrong. Plain and simple. There are a lot more options than oats and tofu to help get your cholesterol in check and reduce the risk for heart disease.
Why should you care about cholesterol? It plays a major role in heart health. Particles of dense “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can accumulate along arterial walls and make it much harder for blood to pass.
Blood vessels become stiff, blood pressure can go up, and as your heart struggles to move oxygenated blood through your body, your risk for a heart attack or stroke increases.
LDL, however, has enemies. Fiber, “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol), and healthy fats can all help remove LDL particles to encourage better blood flow. Thankfully, a lot of flavorful foods can offer these things.
Here are a few simple swaps you can make to help keep cholesterol in check:
- Walnuts instead of croutons: If you want to give some crunch to your salad, elect heart-healthy walnuts over carb-heavy croutons. Sugars in croutons can boost LDL, while walnuts are a rich source of polyunsaturated fats that can increase HDL and lower LDL.
- Oil and vinegar for salad dressing: Using olive oil and vinegar (balsamic, red wine, grape, etc.) is much healthier than sugar-laden dressings to add taste to salad. Olive oil is an excellent source of healthy fats that may help improve cholesterol.
- Snack on popcorn or nuts, not chips or cheese and crackers: Just make sure your nuts and popcorn aren’t candied or heavily buttered!
- Drink red wine instead of cocktails: Cocktails and mixed drinks are loaded with sugars that can boost LDL. On the other hand, red wine is free of added sugar and a source of heart-healthy antioxidants. Don’t drink more than a glass per day, though.
- Go bun-less for burgers: Go ahead and eat the burger with a fork and knife like it were a steak! If not, choose a whole grain bun or wrap it in lettuce. All of these are healthy alternatives to sugar-rich white burger buns.
See, going low cholesterol isn’t so hard. There are plenty of options that allow you to enjoy your food while getting healthier. And remember, this is only a small selection!
Focus on eating plenty of fruit (great for dessert) and vegetables and limiting intake of processed foods, refined grains, and sugary snacks and drinks, and you’ll be heading in the right direction.