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Low Cholesterol Recipes

You've probably heard a lot about cholesterol, especially concerning your health, diet, and overall well-being. Cholesterol is a molecule that is essential for good health. Your body even makes the substance in the liver. You may have heard that dietary cholesterol has been linked to heart disease, weight gain, and obesity. Unfortunately, that can happen for people who have high cholesterol. However, there is a type of good cholesterol (HDL), and it works by reducing s…

me of the bad stuff (LDL). So before you jump feet first into a low-cholesterol, healthy-eating diet, learn a few key facts first. Like what types of food contain good cholesterol and which increase levels of bad cholesterol in your blood. Also, find out how you can lower your cholesterol levels by eating foods that are high in HDL.

Here is how it shakes out: You need to consume some cholesterol to be healthy. The problem is that Americans eat entirely too much of it. If you've seen the numbers, or "values," -- essentially a measure of HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in the blood, expressed by mg/dl, that's great. But you're not getting a blood test every day, especially not at home. So instead of worrying about the numbers, concentrate on eating foods that help increase the good stuff and limit the bad stuff. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains while saving red meat, sugary foods, and those made with processed flour for special occasions.

Let's break it down even further.

Cholesterol-lowering Breakfast Recipes

Here are some breakfast staples that contain low levels of bad cholesterol, high levels of good cholesterol, or somewhere comfortably in the middle. These recipes are also good for heart health.

Steel-cut oatmeal: The soluble fiber in oatmeal reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and makes it, so your body absorbs less cholesterol. Eat oatmeal in the morning with some fresh fruit. Or, you can add dried fruit and nuts directly into your bowl of hot cereal. Another great thing about oatmeal is that it's naturally low-fat.

Whole wheat English muffin: Don't let "whole wheat" scare you. Smear on a bit of nutty peanut butter, almond butter, avocado, or sugar-free jam, and you won't even know the difference. Fatty acids in avocados and almonds are known for helping to improve cholesterol levels in the blood.

Whole wheat pancakes or waffles: The key here is to eat "whole grains," and not foods with lots of processed flour.

Plain yogurt: Ordinarily, you want to reduce your intake of dairy products because they can get in the way of achieving low cholesterol levels. Instead of buying the kind with fruit mixed in (which has tons of sugar), add fresh berries, a banana, or pieces of melon. Or what about some apples and pears? These fruits are packed with cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber (or, to be technical, the fiber reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Get that?).

Here's another excellent option for breakfast that can go a long way in lowering those "bad" LDL cholesterol levels. Eat a serving of baked or grilled fatty fish with a whole wheat bagel and side of melon. Fish, like tuna, salmon, and mackerel, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which is a super powerful substance for reducing your risk of developing many different health problems. There's great news for foodies who love fish. It's an excellent source of vitamin D, which can be hard to get -- especially if you live in a northern state. And the American Heart Association suggests eating at least two servings a week.

Low Cholesterol Lunch Recipes

Here are some great lunch recipes for lowering cholesterol numbers:

Tuna salad with a touch of balsamic dressing. Using olive oil is much healthier than other types of oils and margarine. Some types of vegetable oils have unhealthy trans fats; olive oil does not.

Savory bean chili. Use black beans, kidney, pinto, or navy beans. Kidney beans and black beans are low in "bad" LDL cholesterol, high in fiber, and reduces blood sugar levels. Pinto beans have been linked to reduced total cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol in the blood. Navy beans are high in fiber and may help reduce the side effects of metabolic syndrome, which is linked to cardiovascular disease. And people who eat navy beans regularly tend to have higher levels of "good" HDL cholesterol.

Roasted turkey (or roasted chicken) and avocado. Avocados are a heart-healthy dynamo due to their low levels of unhealthy, trans and saturated fats. And roasting lean meat like chicken or turkey is preferable to eat fried, sautéed, or seared versions. If you drizzle oil over roasted poultry to keep it moist, stick with olive oil and brush on a light coat. That's really all you need.

Low Cholesterol Dinner Recipes

Eating these low LDL dinner recipes can reduce risk factors for developing high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.

Grilled salmon fillet with cilantro glaze. When you eat red meat, you're consuming a lot of potentially artery-clogging saturated fats. But eating fatty fish (yes, that's what it's known as), you don't get any of that unhealthy fat. Omega-3 fatty acids are known for reducing certain fats in the bloodstream and slows down other substances that can reduce blood flow in the arteries. You can toss the salmon on an indoor or outdoor grill, or bake it. To make the glaze, chop a bunch of cilantro leaves and a couple of cloves of garlic, add a few drops of honey and lime juice.

Beans and rice is another great, cholesterol-lowering meal. On the one hand, rice -- especially white rice -- can be completely stripped of any nutritional value during processing and leaves you with a simple, starchy grain. On the other hand, beans have been called a "superfood." They're packed with fiber, potassium, iron, and other vitamins and minerals. They're fat-free and cholesterol-free. Health experts have found, however, by eating beans with rice, your blood sugar levels don't spike nearly as fast or as high as when you eat rice on its own. But to make this dish a real powerhouse, be sure to top it with cholesterol-lowering veggies like eggplant or okra. Or mix in lean pulled pork with a Cuban-inspired sauce containing olive oil, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and tomato paste.

By sticking with an eating plan that favors fruits and vegetables over processed foods, eating lean white meat or fish over red meat, and reducing your dairy intake, not only will you likely see your bad cholesterol levels go down, but you'll likely enjoy some weight loss, too. That's what's so great about naturally low-cholesterol and cholesterol-lowering foods. They're just healthier all around.

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