Keep the Flavor, Lose the Cholesterol
Learn how swapping out your condiments can help your heart.
Lose the Cholesterol, Not the Taste
If your doctor has told you that you need to lower your cholesterol, the first place to look is your plate. If you’re used to eating juicy hamburgers and crunchy fried chicken, the thought of eating healthy might turn your stomach. But you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for better eating habits.
Click “next” to find out how to help your heart without neglecting your taste buds.
The Sweet, Stinky Onion
These stinky beauties may help prevent the inflammation and hardening of arteries according to Nutrition & Food Science, which is important for people with high cholesterol. Toss red onions into a hearty salad; add white onions to a garden burger; fold yellow onions into an egg white omelet.
Tip: Pass on the onion rings—they are not a cholesterol-friendly way to go.
The Biting, Fighting Garlic
Like onions, garlic is awesome for your heart, according to researchers from China Medical University. Try simmering whole cloves of garlic in olive oil until they’re soft and using it as a spread on bland-tasting foods. It tastes better than butter and is a whole lot healthier—especially for lowering cholesterol.
The Mighty Mushroom
Several studies have shown that the nutrients found in mushrooms may help reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and increase HDL (good cholesterol). Although much of the research has been performed on shiitakes, other varieties available in the supermarket or at your farmer’s market are thought to also be effective.
The Awesome Avocado
These creamy delights are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, something your heart and brain love, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Avocado is great by itself with a squeeze of lemon, or you can harness the power of the onion and the avocado in some homemade guacamole.
The Powerful Pepper
Nothing gets the blood pumping (in a good way) quite like the heat from peppers. According to the North Ohio Heart Center, capsaicin, a compound found in hot peppers, may reduce your cholesterol. From salads to soups, peppers can liven up a meal. If you’re timid about spicy foods, try bell peppers to start and work your way up the heat scale as you please.
Salsa, Pico, and More
Forget about mayo or ketchup. If you’re looking for some killer condiments, get out your chef’s knife and get chopping. Throw together tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, and other heart-healthy ingredients for fresh dips that make snacking healthier. Be wary of store-bought salsa—it’s often high in sodium.
All this talk about vegetables—what about fruit? Packed with vitamins and flavor, fruit of all kinds are good for your heart—especially apples, grapes, strawberries and citrus. Add fruit as a complement to your meal, enjoy as a light snack, and don’t be afraid to get creative. Ever tried mango salsa? This easy-to-make salsa works well as a side dish, or swapped in for mayo on a sandwich.
Time for some crunch! Harvard University recommends that 2 oz. of nuts a day may lower your cholesterol as much as five percent. That’s good, but the flavor and texture of nuts are even more enticing. Go for the unsalted variety to avoid excess sodium.
Using Common Sense
We hope these tips got you excited, but hopefully your head is still on straight. You should add more of these cholesterol-lowering ingredients to your diet, AND leave out danger foods like red meat. (Sorry, you can’t slap pico de gallo on a 4-lb hamburger and call it healthy.) You can, however, enjoy leaner meats like turkey and chicken and omega-3-rich fish.
Keep It Fresh
The easiest way to determine if food is good for your heart is to ask yourself “is it fresh?” That means choosing fresh produce over foods that come in jars, bags, and boxes. While you’re watching your cholesterol, you also need to be wary of salt. Many processed foods marketed as “healthy” are high in sodium, which is bad for your heart, explains the Mayo Clinic.