10 Tasty Ways to Keep Your Cholesterol in Check
Are your cholesterol levels where you want them to be? You don’t need a complete diet make-over to help reduce your levels. Making some small substitutions in your diet and lifestyle can make a big difference. See which one of these 10 ideas works for you! Remember, managing the ABC’s of diabetes – the A1C test, Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, and Stopping Smoking – can help lower one’s risk for heart disease. So get heart healthy at your next meal for this November, National Diabetes Month.
- Start out your day right with a cholesterol lowering food like whole oats, melon, bananas, berries and other fruits that pair well with oatmeal.1 Add in healthy fats like ½ ounce of pumpkin seeds, 7 walnuts halves or 12 crushed almonds.2 Bonus: adding walnuts in your diet may help reduce the risk of, delay the onset of, slow the progression of, and prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.3
- Replace full fat or 2% yogurt with 1% or non-fat plain yogurt, then add healthy plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are a type of polyunsaturated fat found in foods like walnuts, which actually lower your risk of heart disease.4 You can cut up fresh fruit or, as a time saver, heat up frozen fruit in the microwave, then mix in yogurt, walnuts and cinnamon. Heating the fruit up makes it taste sweeter! My favorite combinations are pineapple blueberry, or cherry raspberry.
- Instead of cream cheese or butter on white bread, choose 100% whole grain or sprouted bread, spread it with nut butter, and top it with banana slices and blueberries or strawberries. Also try sunflower seed butter, which is high in heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats.
- Join the Meatless Monday movement! You’ll boost your consumption of plant-based foods that are naturally lower in saturated fats and higher in fiber. This can help with both cholesterol and blood glucose management.
- Dying for some of those old time favorites like Mac and Cheese? Look for whole grain options or make your own with a reduced fat cheese. I like Cabot reduced fat cheddar. Then add in frozen petite peas or low-sodium salsa for a fiber boosting twist!
- Before dinner, choose a veggie appetizer like garlic string beans cooked with olive oil, or broiled asparagus sprinkled with spices and crushed pistachios. Another great suggestion is a starter salad drizzled with walnut oil, a great source of polyunsaturated fats. The fiber will help you feel full so you’ll take in fewer calories overall and be less likely to eat excess meat or full fat dairy.
- Eat more beans and less meat! There are endless tasty bean combinations. One of my favorite products is Melissa’s precooked lentils in the refrigerated section, also available as Trader Joe’s lentils. I mix them with a container of bruschetta from the refrigerator section, any kind of greens, and sprinkle with feta. When making soups and stews, you can also blend in white beans for a richer soup! Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber that lowers cholesterol.5 Additionally, beans may help lower blood pressure.6
- Instead of a roast beef sandwich, try this easy to make salmon tartine or opt for lean turkey – don't’ forget to add in the tomato and lettuce! Opt for a side salad or fresh fruit in place of chips, at least 80% of the time!
- Create your own plant-based chips! Use sweet potatoes, kale, cabbage or apples; coat them in a bit of olive oil & bake to perfection. It is the perfect way to boost your vegetable intake and satisfy your craving for salty crunchy snacks. Just remember to add the salt on last so you don’t lose the taste when cooking.
- Try soy in more palatable ways. Give tempeh, edamame, or pressed, baked and flavored tofu a try. These foods can help lower your LDL cholesterol and also contain less saturated fat than meat while providing beneficial nutrients.7 For a more meaty texture, sauté cubes of pressed flavored tofu, minced garlic, and snap peas in sesame oil. Season with some soy sauce and pepper!
Don’t let the ideas stop here! Discover more healthy meal ideas in our recipe section and explore how satisfying these nourishing meals can taste. Here are some of my favorites: Artichoke Hummus, Salsa and Chicken Rice Soup and Brussels Sprouts with Sun Dried Tomato. For a holiday inspired meal, try the Pumpkin Chili. Just make sure to buy the lean ground turkey made from breast meat.
Were the financial costs of type 2 diabetes surprising to you?