5 Easy Food Swaps to Help Lower Cholesterol

The Mad Fit

Eating the right food is important for people to watch their cholesterol levels but can be challenging if you crave certain favorites. These simple food swaps can help.

Lowering your cholesterol requires some serious life changes, especially when it comes to your diet. For many people, the “bad for you” list looks a lot like a list of favorite foods, such as bacon, burgers, fries, and sweets, which can be hard to give up. 

5 Foods to help lower CholestrolPhoto by Ella Olsson from Pexels

But smart food choices are essential for lowering cholesterol naturally, which in turn lowers your risk of heart attack.

If your new diet rules seem daunting, here are some simple food swaps for an easier transition. 

1. Top your salad with nuts

High-fiber vegetables are great for lowering cholesterol, so salads are a go — that is until you top them off with croutons, which are often high in unhealthy fats and highly processed carbohydrates. Instead, try adding heart-healthy nuts to your salad.

When it comes to nuts, walnuts are a particularly heart-healthy food for low cholesterol because they're rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, a healthier type of fat. Walnuts also contain fiber, which has been shown to lower your risk of heart disease.

2. Eat Dark Chocolate instead of Milk Chocolate

Cocoa butter contains oleic acid, a healthier monounsaturated fat like that in olive oil. In a study of postmenopausal women with high cholesterol levels published in June 2019 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutritionparticipants saw a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels after five weeks of eating a diet high in oleic acid.

3. Roast instead of fry your potatoes

French fries are doused in fat, so they're a good food to skip when you're watching your cholesterol. Avoid ordering fries at restaurants whenever possible, opting for roasted potatoes instead. You can also make them at home, where you can control the preparation, which includes adding in moderate amounts of heart-healthy fats such as olive oil.

4. Make chili with ground turkey

If you’re a purist, you may not favor ground turkey itself, even in burgers. But lean ground turkey — which usually contains 7 percent fat, compared with the 20 percent fat content of 80 percent lean ground beef — is a cinch to disguise. The lower the saturated fat, the less detrimental it is to your cholesterol level. Even better, "No one can tell the difference," says Gebo, who uses ground turkey all the time to make chili.

Ground turkey also makes a great substitute for ground beef in dishes like meatballs or meatloaf. You can also use ground chicken, which is similar in terms of nutrition but with a slightly different taste.

5. Eat whole-grain English muffins for breakfast

Those flaky, perfectly shaped croissants look delicious at the bakery, but the layers of flour and butter equal a big mistake if you’re watching your cholesterol. Butter is high in saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol levels. On the other hand, a whole-grain English muffin not only has less saturated fat but also adds around 4 grams of heart-healthy fiber. Making this swap will put you well on your way to the American Heart Association’s recommendation of incorporating more whole grains, which contain dietary fiber and other nutrients, into your diet. Doing this will help lower your cholesterol.

For a healthy topping, you can add a nut butter of your choice; these spreads contain dietary fiber and heart-healthy fats. Or try fruit preserves — just be sure to keep an eye on the amount of added sugar. 

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