The Building Blocks of a Low Cholesterol Diet

What you eat matters to your health. At Washington Healthcare Center, we can help you change your diet to lower your cholesterol numbers. After all, high cholesterol greatly raises your risk of stroke, heart disease, and peripheral vascular disease.

Our experts are happy to help you devise complete meal plans. But you can do so on your own when you understand the building blocks of a low-cholesterol diet. You need a variety of healthy, whole foods and should minimize processed foods and saturated fats. Read on to learn some of the details.

Fruits and vegetables take center stage

Any healthy diet that helps reduce your risk of chronic disease contains plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. These foods are high in nutrients and low in calories, so they won’t pile on the pounds. Plus, they offer ample amounts of phytosterols and fiber, both of which can lower your LDL cholesterol levels. LDL is the undesirable form of cholesterol.

Make vegetables and fruits fill up half of your plate at meal time. Good choices include leafy greens, berries, sweet potatoes, and other produce that’s brightly colored.

Go with beans

A vegetarian meal a night or more a week can help your health. Use beans and legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils, and black beans, as the primary protein in chili or tacos. Beans and legumes are high in cholesterol-lowering fiber.

Snack on nuts

Nuts make a great grab-and-go snack. They may be high in fat, but it’s the good, monounsaturated type that is heart-healthy. The omega-3 in walnuts, for example, helps keep your lipids at a good level. Nuts also contain a lot of good fiber and phytosterols.

Snack judiciously, though. Nuts do contain a good amount of calories, and eating too many can lead to weight gain.

Be grain smart

Carbohydrates are the villain of the diet world, but whole grains are still one of the good guys. Opt for 100% whole-wheat bread over white, choose brown rice instead of white, and opt for quinoa instead of mashed potatoes. Oatmeal or quinoa flakes make for a flavorful, filling breakfast cereal with lots of heart-healthy, cholesterol-lowering fiber. The fiber in whole grains can help reduce cholesterol levels.

Minimize dairy

Full-fat dairy has a lot of saturated fat, which may have an impact on cholesterol levels. Since the research isn’t 100% clear, it’s best to keep your intake to a minimum. Low-fat milk and cheese are usually good choices.

But certain dairy products, such as yogurt with probiotics, may actually lower your lipid levels.

Make your meat lean

If you’re not having beans as your primary protein source, opt for lean meats, such as white-meat poultry or fish. Have red meat, which tends to be higher in saturated fat, only on occasion. Limit processed meats, such as ham and sausage, quite a bit. Consuming them is likely to raise your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Flavor up your meals

Heart-healthy oils include olive and avocado oil. Use these as a delicious drizzle on roasted vegetables or whole-grain bread. Add them to salad dressing or use them for light sautes.

Almond butter and peanut butter can jazz up the flavor of an apple or banana and offer heart-healthy fats and fiber.

Herbs and spices are good for you and your cholesterol levels, too. Experiment with adding fresh herbs to your meals or spicing up a bland meals with options such as chili powder, cumin, or rosemary.

For more strategies to help you lower high cholesterol levels, call us at Washington Healthcare Center. Alternatively, book an appointment using this website to gain control of your health today.

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