If you have high cholesterol, making lifestyle changes can be an essential part of managing it. That might include exercising more regularly, choosing healthier beverages, or changing your diet. If you are watching what you eat, it’s not just a matter of avoiding foods that are bad for cholesterol, but also embracing those that can potentially help lower it.
That said, watching what you eat doesn’t have to mean eating less or being hungry; it just means making better food choices and establishing smart snacking habits to make sure you feel satisfied.
We spoke with Kimberly Snodgrass, RDN, LD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, regarding the best snacking habits you can have to lower cholesterol. If you need a midday pick-me-up but are watching your cholesterol, these ideas are a great place to start.
“Avocado is a fruit that contains monounsaturated fats, which help lower LDL-cholesterol or the ‘bad cholesterol,'” explains Snodgrass. “When you combine that with whole wheat toast, it’s a win-win.”
Snodgrass further explains that it’s a great choice because whole wheat toast contains whole grains that have soluble fiber. “Soluble fiber can bind cholesterol in the intestine and remove it from the body,” says Snodgrass.
Olive oil and oatmeal might not sound like a match made in heaven, but you’d be surprised at how well this combination works together.
Similar to whole wheat toast, Snodgrass says that oatmeal contains soluble fiber—again, helping to bind cholesterol in the intestine and remove it from the body. And, according to the Cleveland Clinic, eating about one and a half cups of cooked oatmeal daily can potentially lower cholesterol by 5 to 8 percent.
“Olive oil can improve the lipid profile by decreasing LDL (‘bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL (‘good cholesterol’),” says Snodgrass.
Cinnamon, meanwhile, may help lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol in those with type 2 diabetes, and more importantly, it can add a nice boost of flavor.
This combination has all the delicious nutrients and can help with your cholesterol levels.
“Veggies and berries contain soluble fiber, and again, it can bind cholesterol in the intestine and remove it from the body,” says Snodgrass.
One vegetable that works great in a smoothie and may help lower cholesterol is spinach. Berries also contain antioxidants that are great for protecting the LDL cholesterol from oxidizing in the body.
“Add chia seeds and flaxseeds to the mix,” says Snodgrass. “Both contain fiber to help lower cholesterol by lowering the amount of LDL cholesterol that is absorbed into your bloodstream.”
Chia seeds are one of the highest known whole-food sources of dietary fiber, and because of this, they’re great for providing lower LDL cholesterol, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Furthermore, in a study published in the Nutrition & Metabolism (London) Journal, flaxseed fibers also helped to lower cholesterol.
According to Snodgrass, carrots, like other vegetables, are full of soluble fiber. And as we know by now, the intestine does not absorb soluble fiber.
When you need to add extra flavor to your carrots, Snodgrass recommends dipping them in hummus.
“Hummus is made of chickpeas. Chickpeas are a legume, which is a vegetable,” says Snodgrass. “Hummus has been shown to lower cholesterol because it contains soluble fiber.”
If you’re looking for a tasty midday snack, hummus and carrots are the way to go. For other dipping veggies, you can’t go wrong with celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and more. Imagine the type of veggie platter you might see at a party, and try to replicate it for a winning combination of veggies and hummus!