The Best Breakfast Foods to Eat If You Have High Cholesterol, Say Dietitians
If you have high cholesterol, you're not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate nearly 12% of adults age 20 and older suffer from this common condition. What's scarier is high cholesterol has no symptoms, so you could have less than ideal levels without knowing it. Unfortunately, this puts you at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, two of America's leading causes of death.
On the bright side, however, high cholesterol is relatively easy to treat and improve. In fact, the first step is simply changing your diet to include healthy and balanced foods. Here, dietitians recommend the best ways to start your day with recommended breakfast foods for those with high cholesterol. Then, be sure to read up on our list of the Surefire Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol, Say Dietitians.
Easy to make overnight or heat up in the microwave in the morning, oatmeal is a nutrient-rich breakfast choice because it's an excellent source of soluble fiber, according to Michelle Cardel, PhD, MS, RD, the director of Global Clinical Research & Nutrition and an adjunct professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine. As she explains, soluble fiber attaches itself to LDL cholesterol (aka, the "bad" cholesterol) and helps to remove it from your body.
Plus, oatmeal is also ripe with antioxidants, which can help control blood pressure and decrease the risk for coronary heart disease.
"One cup of cooked oatmeal contains six grams of protein, four grams of fiber, and about 150 calories," she says. "To give your oatmeal an additional fiber, healthy fats, and protein boost, top your oatmeal with berries and toasted nuts, like pecans or walnuts. This winning combo will keep hunger at bay for hours."
If you need a little sweet fix in the morning, but you're trying to lower your cholesterol levels, consider adding a side or topping of blackberries and raspberries. These superstars are high in fiber, containing about 8 grams per cup, says Tara Tomaino, RD at The Park.
"The fiber in berries will help remove cholesterol from the body and help you feel full and satisfied after your meal," says Tomaino. "Some studies have shown that consuming these berries may help in reducing the buildup of LDL, or 'bad' cholesterol in the blood."
Not sure where to pop these babies into your meal? She recommends on top of oatmeal or toast, mixed in with plain Greek yogurt or blended into a smoothie. Yum!
Egg white omelet with sautéed vegetables
Eggs have higher cholesterol levels, but all of it is found in the yolk. That's because egg yolks are higher in saturated fatty acids, which have a greater effect on your blood cholesterol levels if you consume too many of them, according to Harvard Health.
If you love your eggs in the morning, don't worry, you can still enjoy them: just take the yellow stuff off your plate. As Cardel explains, egg whites are high in protein (three grams per egg white!) and low in calories, fat and cholesterol, and serve as a source of potassium, riboflavin, and selenium.
"Cook your omelet in a light spray of olive oil, and toss in some sautéed veggies—mushrooms, spinach, and peppers all taste divine in an omelet—for increasing healthy fats and fiber, which can help improve your cholesterol levels even more," she says.
Though in the United States, beans aren't a breakfast staple, they're fairly common in other parts of the world, including the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Japan, Myanmar, Egypt, and others. If you haven't tried it, consider this a culinary challenge, beans are one of the best foods to decrease blood cholesterol levels, according to Megan Erwine, RD and nutritionist for LetsGetChecked.com. As she explains, beans are full of soluble fiber that grab on to blood cholesterol and remove it from the body, and they're an excellent source of plant-based protein.
If a side of beans does not entice you in the morning, consider making this smoothie, recommended by Erwine:
- 1/2 cup drained and rinsed black beans
- 1 frozen banana
- 2 pitted dates
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- A dash of cinnamon
- 1 cup almond milk.
Or, for a savory approach, Tomaino recommends adding a generous scoop of black beans to a whole wheat wrap with egg, low-fat cheese, peppers, and onions to make a yummy burrito. Swap the egg for tofu for those who stick to a vegan diet.
Avocado on whole-wheat bread
Not only is this a trendy breakfast choice, but it's also a beneficial way to lower your cholesterol and improve your heart health too, according to Cardel.
"Avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fats, or healthy fats—and are associated with lower cholesterol and decreased risk of heart disease," she says. "They are also high in sterols, which are plant-based substances that help to lower cholesterol."
Kimchi isn't a popular choice for Western diets, but it's a traditional Korean dish that's consumed for all meals, including breakfast.
What is it? It's simply fermented vegetables, and you can find it in nearly all grocery stores. This tart, tangy dish will help you tackle high cholesterol since it contains phytosterols and other compounds that block the absorption of cholesterol that comes from food, Erwine explains. It can also suppress cholesterol synthesis and even help excrete cholesterol from the body.
"[Because] Kimchi is fermented, it produces probiotics, good bacteria, that can break down cholesterol," she says. "Try topping scrambled egg whites with Kimchi at breakfast."
In many Scandinavian countries, like Denmark and Sweden, smoked salmon is a beloved topping for open-face sandwiches. If you love the taste, Cardel says it's a standout option, thanks to its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that can improve cholesterol levels.
"This protein source can lower triglycerides, increase HDL cholesterol, or the 'good' cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and help prevent heart disease," she continues.
Plus, one serving of smoked salmon (3.5 ounces) contains 18 grams of protein and about 120 calories, which makes it a great breakfast option or for any meal of the day.
"The classic smoked salmon and bagel pairing is a delicious favorite, but stick with a whole wheat bagel to get the fiber boost," she recommends. "You can also pair salmon on top of eggs, in quiches, or sandwiches or wraps for a delicious and healthy twist on breakfast. It's even great on top of avocado toast."
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