We’re sure you’ve heard the saying “health is wealth” before, and it certainly is. Paying attention to your health, eating well and getting good exercise in is a great investment for your future and will also save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs. For many people in the world today, cholesterol is one of the biggest causes for concern, which has triggered hundreds, if not thousands, of people to adopt low cholesterol diets.
As with any diet, the struggle is in finding satisfaction in the flavor of our meals while we’re working on getting our cholesterol levels under control. The great thing about this is that we really can make food work in our favor and there are simple substitutions that we can make to ensure delicious and nutritious meals that are low in cholesterol.
Top Your Salad with Walnuts Not Croutons
Yes, salads can be incredibly healthy, but it’s important to remember that what you put on top of your base of greens also really matters. We all know that carbohydrates are better consumed in smaller quantities and yet when it comes to salads, people tend to go bananas over the croutons. However, carbohydrates are actually known to cause high levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), which is better known as bad cholesterol.
A great swap is to top your salads with walnuts instead. Not only will walnuts deliver the same satisfying crunch, they’re also rich in a good fat called polyunsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fat can lower your LDL levels while boosting the good cholesterol in your body.
Say Goodbye to Store Bought Dressing
Since we’re on the subject of salads, let’s talk about salad dressing for a second. We all know that smothering your greens in salad dressing probably isn’t the smartest thing to do. This is especially true if you’re fond of store bought dressing or thick dressings, which are generally packed with artery clogging substances like sugar and fat.
A smarter alternative for those who are looking to switch to a low cholesterol diet is to switch to low fat dressings with citrus or vinegar bases. You can make these dressings more appealing by adding ingredients like shallots, pepper, honey and other low cholesterol options. You can even try other citrus sources like grapefruit for an unexpected kick of sweet and sour.
Go Gaga Over Greek Yogurt
We all love sour cream. Who doesn’t, right? Whether you’re using it to top off a perfectly baked potato or as a base for your tortilla chip dip, there’s just something about that luscious and silky cream that gets our taste buds all riled up. Unfortunately, sour cream there’s just no way around the fact that sour cream is packed with saturated fat and probably isn’t the best thing to be munching on if you’re trying to adhere to a low cholesterol diet plan.
If you’re looking for the same mouth feel and a similar favor, a smart swap would be trading in your sour cream for non-fat Greek yogurt. It’s one of the world’s healthiest foods and gives the same luxurious taste and texture to what would otherwise be unhealthy dishes.
Low Cholesterol Snacking
We’ve all been there: sitting in front of the television screen, enjoying our favorite show and working our way through a bag of chips. We munch and we munch, not realizing that we’ve consumed a ton of calories and large amounts of unsaturated fat until we’re grasping at air or hitting the bottom of the bag.
To keep your diet low cholesterol and still enjoy delicious snacks, try snacking on some popcorn instead of potato chips or tortilla chips. Homemade popcorn that is air-popped is particularly favorable as it contains 80% less saturated fat than its chip counterparts. There are also great and easy ways to add kick to air popped popcorn. Chili lime popcorn, anyone?
Trade in Your Rice
Can’t live without carbs? No problem. But don’t go bananas over rice either. When switching to a low cholesterol diet, it’s important to seek more nutrient dense sources of carbohydrates. Quinoa, for example, is a fantastic alternative as it has 15% less carbs and a whopping 60% more protein than brown rice.
It’s also got much more fiber than rice. Amazingly, this South American seed is even more nutritionally dense than couscous. You can use quinoa as a base in your meals, toss it in with your salad or even bake it with spices for a crunchy and heart healthy snack.
Ditch the Red Meat and Say Hello to Seafood
Don’t get us wrong. We love a juicy, medium well steak as much as the next carnivorous eater, but that doesn’t negate the fact that red meat is not the best thing to be chowing down on if you’ve got cholesterol problems. Studies have even shown that high consumption of red meat is one of the biggest contributors to high levels of cholesterol in a person’s body.
A super effective method to decrease your cholesterol is to eat more seafood. Seafood is typically very low in fat and is also a high source of heart-healthy substances like omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, eating seafood is even more effective than other low-fat protein sources like chicken and turkey. Try incorporating more seafood into your meals. Salmon, tilapia, and scallop are all equally fantastic choices.
Nutty is Better than Cheesy
Cheese is one of the go-to snacks for many people out there. Getting hungry? Pop a cube of cheddar into your mouth. Need a quick breakfast? Why not a grilled cheese sandwich. Pre-dinner appetizers? Well, cheese and crackers are fancy and delicious options.
This is all absolutely true, but so is the fact that cheese has one of the highest levels of saturated fat out of all other foods out there. The next time you’re tempted to reach for some gouda or Swiss cheese, try snacking on nuts, seeds or even edamame instead. Almonds in in particular have been shown to lower LDL in the body while edamame is low in saturated fat and packs a mean punch of protein at about 25 grams per cup.