Having high levels of Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol, is linked to poor cardiovascular health and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. If you have been advised by your doctor to switch to a low-cholesterol diet, chances are you are worried about having to eat blunt foods every day. Well, not really. There are food substitutes that will lower down your bad cholesterol without making you feel sick.
1. Oatmeal and Bran
Oatmeal is good for your heart health. It is high in soluble fibre that helps reduce the amount of LDLs in your body and at the same time increases the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or the good cholesterol. One-and-a-half cup of oatmeal contains 6 grams of fibre. For supreme HDL boost, add oat bran in your cold cereal. Soluble fibre is also found in many fruits and vegetables like barley, beans, apples, pears, etc.
2. Walnuts and almonds
Instead of high-calorie croutons, you can use crunchy walnuts or almonds as toppings in your vegetable salad. They are much tastier and healthier than carb-rich croutons.
3. Fish and scallops
Fish and other seafood are high in omega-3 fatty acids – essential nutrients that promote better cardiovascular health. If you have problems managing your cholesterol level, adding these foods on your daily diet is ideal. Foods that have the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, hearing, sardines, scallops, salmon, halibut, and albacore tuna. Don’t like fish? You can also get these essential fatty acids from flaxseeds and canola oil.
4. Vinegar and lemon salad dressings
You must feel so healthy eating a large bowl of fresh vegetable salad dressed with high-fat mayonnaise. But according to experts, it’s like smoking while jogging. Incorrect choice of salad dressing overthrows the purpose of eating such a healthy dish. So instead of mayo and creamy dressings, use vinegar or lemon juice. They just don’t lower bad cholesterol but also promotes faster absorption of nutrients from the salad.
If you love eating white rice, maybe it’s time that you look for a healthier alternative, such as Quinoa (pronounced as KEEN-WAH). This South American seed is a tastier substitute for rice. It also contains 15% fewer carbohydrates and 60% more protein than brown rice! Not only that, Quinoa is rich in fibre too, making it a perfect staple for people with high cholesterol.
6. Plain Greek yogurt
Instead of sour cream, use plain Greek yogurt. It’s considered one of the healthiest foods because it is loaded with vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants that promote better health. Unlike sour cream, it doesn’t have saturated fats which bolster your LDL levels.
7. Lean turkey
So you love burgers – don’t worry. You can still enjoy this all-time favourite treat. But instead of beef, you want to use turkey meat instead. Red meat like beef and pork are main sources of saturated fats and dietary cholesterol. Although turkey isn’t entirely free from fats and cholesterol, it is a much better choice, containing only half of the cholesterol found in beef.
8. Olive oil
Butter is one of the foods which have the highest amount of dietary cholesterol and saturated fats. Just a teaspoon of it already contains 7 grams of saturated fats and 10% dietary cholesterol! So instead of butter, use vegetable-oil-based spread for your daily morning sandwich or olive oil for your next stir-fry dish.
9. Red wine
A shot of red wine a day keeps the doctor away. But make sure you stick to red wine. Cocktail drinks are loaded with carbohydrates. On the other hand, red wine contains antioxidants such as flavonoids that are believed to lower LDLs and boost the production of HDLs.
10. Edamame and other nuts
If you woke up in the middle of the night feeling hungry, put out some edamame instead of cookies or crackers. These are baby soybeans that are usually boiled and served as appetiser in Japanese restaurants. These beans are low in saturated fats and have the ability to lower LDL.
With these tasty foods on your daily diet, you can boost good cholesterols, lower the bad ones, and improve your heart health.
Sources of this article:
What is cholesterol?, BBC Health
Mozaffarian D, et al. Components of a cardioprotective diet: New insights. Circulation. 2011;123:2870.