Dining Healthy: Suggestions For a Low Cholesterol Breakfast

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Previously published on Answers.com.

A low-fat diet – along with a lot more exercise – is one of the first tools many try when diagnosed with high cholesterol. But there’s more to it than just a low-fat diet. There are certain foods that have been proven to help lower cholesterol naturally. And several fit into the breakfast category, so it’s possible to start every day with a cholesterol-lowering breakfast.

Do: Choose low-fat, low-cholesterol foods for breakfast.

Following a low-fat diet is important when trying to lower cholesterol as saturated and trans-fats are key causes of high cholesterol. Lower-fat breakfast choices include cereal with skim milk rather than whole milk, and egg white omelets. Think about how you cook as well – try cooking your eggs using a non-stick spray or a bit of olive oil rather than butter.

Do: Substitute proven cholesterol-lowering foods for your usual muffin, toast or cereal.

Soluble fiber has been proven to lower cholesterol and oatmeal is a great high-fiber breakfast choice. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad,” cholesterol. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol. Eating 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal provides 6 grams of fiber. If you add fruit, such as bananas, you’ll add about 4 more grams of fiber.”

Add a handful of almonds or walnuts to your oatmeal and kick the cholesterol-lowering into high gear. Harvard Health’s Eleven Foods That Lower Cholesterol explains, “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.”

Don’t: Skip breakfast.

Breakfast is one of the easiest ways to incorporate foods with high soluble fiber into your diet. Simply changing your daily breakfast to oatmeal will deliver a significant boost of fiber into your diet. And eating breakfast kicks off your metabolism and provides energy for that all-important daily exercise.

Don’t: Eat eggs for breakfast and then eat other high-cholesterol foods that day.

If you want to enjoy an egg – a full egg, not an egg white – for breakfast, that’s fine. But know that a single large egg has about 186 mg of cholesterol which is nearly all of the recommended maximum of 200 mg of dietary cholesterol per day. So eating eggs is fine as long as you don’t also load up on high fat, high cholesterol foods like whole milk or ice cream or red meat that same day.  (Update/Note: the guidelines revised in late 2013 no longer place a limit on dietary cholesterol and instead focus on low saturated fat and low-no trans fat foods. Eggs are no longer a food to limit.)

Conclusion

For many people, lifestyle changes like exercise along with a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet can stave off cholesterol-lowering medication. But it’s not easy to eat low-fat, low-cholesterol all day, every day. The good news is that choosing a low-fat breakfast that also incorporates foods proven to lower cholesterol is relatively easy to do, and a big help in sticking to a cholesterol-positive diet.

Tip

If you don’t like oatmeal or want to alternate oatmeal with cereal for breakfast, there are some dry cereals that are a great source of fiber. But it might not be the packages with the ‘good source of fiber’ banner. Check out this Mayo Clinic list of breakfast cereals which details several cereal brands and shows which have the most fiber.

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