10 Hearth Healthy Recipes to Help Lower Cholesterol ~ that means lowering the bad stuff (LDL,) raising the good stuff (HDL,) or both. The good news? These are all foods you’ll want to eat! Along with exercise and healthy living habits, food plays a huge part in keeping our hearts heathy and allowing us to live longer. Let’s eat!!
We’re all super lucky that salmon is on this list because not only is it insanely delicious, it’s easy to prepare, and endlessly variable. The American Heart Association recommends 2 servings every week, and I’m happy to oblige. While salmon doesn’t lower bad cholesterol, it does raise your good cholesterol, HDL, which in turn rids the body of the bad stuff. Don’t know where to start with salmon? Try my easy Mediterranean Sheet Pan Salmon.
The monounsaturated fat in nuts can help lower bad cholesterol, and that goes for almonds, walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, some pine nuts, and pistachios. The Harvard Medical School says “Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.” When you toast nuts before adding them to recipes they add incredible flavor and crunch, like they do in this Wild Rice Bowl with Watercress and Hazelnuts. Remember, nuts are caloric, so a small handful a day will do.
#3 beans (legumes)
A serving of beans a day (about 3/4 cup) can measurably lower your cholesterol. It’s because of the soluble fiber in beans, which helps by decreasing cholesterol production in the liver and cholesterol absorption in the small intestine. A few easy ways to get more beans into your diet ~ hummus, bean soups, chilis, and bean salads. And those beans can be dried or canned. My Rainbow Bean Salad with Sweet and Sour Dressing will point you in the right direction.
Apples might be the original health food since we’ve always been taught to eat one a day. That old saw turns out to be pretty accurate, apples (especially the skins) contain pectin, a type of soluble fiber that grabs onto the “bad” cholesterol and escorts it out of our bodies. Go ahead and grab one from the fruit basket and eat it whole…I prefer mine in this Roasted Apple and Radicchio Salad.
You probably already know that morning oatmeal is good for you, but did you know that it provides lots of soluble fiber which helps lower cholesterol by reducing the amount that gets absorbed into your bloodstream? It’s not a bad idea to eat oats every morning. I eat oatmeal or oat bran in the colder months, and muesli in the warmer season. This Oat Bran Power Bowl is one of our favorites. We load it up!
Nutrient dense avocados are high in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, and have been found to help reduce bad cholesterol particles in multiple studies. Eating an avocado a day can get you good results, according to ScienceDaily. The healthy fat in avocados can help you feel full longer, so also helps with weight control. My Avocado and Herb Salad is a delicious way to get started on your daily dose.
#7 olive oil
It may seem counterintuitive, especially if you grew up in the “low fat” generation that believed all fat was a dietary no-no, but some of the foods on this list feature good fats that work to make us healthier. Olive oil is another monounsaturated fat that makes so many foods taste better, and yet it still lowers our bad cholesterol levels. It’s high in calories so you have to limit the amount you eat, but a bottle of extra virgin olive oil is always a good weekly investment. My Herb Marinated Goat Cheese celebrates healthy olive oil.
Garlic is an easy one to get behind, who doesn’t love it? But the more you eat the better it is for you, so I suggest my Hummus with Forty Cloves for maximum benefit. It’s believed that garlic lowers bad cholesterol by preventing it from being produced in the liver, so you can feel good about adding it to all your meals. Tip: roasting the garlic first mellows it out considerably, so you can use more!
#9 red wine
One of my favorites, but maybe the most problematic ~ red wine in moderation is a good thing for your heart and cholesterol levels. But the issue is that wine consumption can be hard to control, and too much wine causes the opposite effect, according to Heart.org. If you’re able to drink moderately, red wine is a good thing, it helps increase HDL, good cholesterol, and its natural plant chemicals, resveratrols, have antioxidant properties that may protect artery walls. My Slow Cooker Mulled Wine is a nice way to enjoy it in chilly weather.
#10 dark chocolate
Dark chocolate contains more cocoa than other types of chocolate, and is higher in the flavonoids that have been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Flavonoids are also in red wine. Look for dark chocolate that has a high cocoa content, (you’ll usually see the percentage front and center on the label) and is minimally processed. Organic products are a good choice. With my Dark Chocolate Detox Bites you can treat yourself to dessert without the guilt.