For people who have high cholesterol, every bite count — including the little ones between meals. You may think cutting out snacks is the way to go, but eating at regular intervals is actually important for normalizing your blood sugar levels and keeping your metabolism moving throughout the day. Snacking is also a great way to include foods that may help lower your cholesterol, as long as you choose wisely. Just because you can’t reach for greasy chips, fries, doughnuts, cakes, and cookies doesn’t mean you’re stuck with tasteless choices. Here are eight healthy snacks you’ll actually enjoy that are good for your heart health, too.
Corn and popcorn are both considered whole grains, which means they’re high in fiber that can help lower your cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. Not only does popcorn have more fiber than whole-wheat bread or brown rice, but this cholesterol buster is also a low-calorie snack when prepared properly and eaten in moderation. Microwave or air pop kernels sans oil, and skip the butter and salt toppings. For a little flavor, try a spray of olive oil and a dash of Parmesan cheese.
Nuts can be a great snack option when you want to lower your cholesterol. “Research has shown that replacing artery-clogging saturated fat with healthful, monounsaturated fat-rich almonds not only lowers LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), but is also an ideal strategy for preventing LDL from oxidizing — a recognized step in the atherosclerotic process,” says nutritionist Janet Bond Brill, PhD, RDN, author of Cholesterol Down: 10 Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in 4 Weeks — Without Prescription Drugs. Walnuts are another good choice if you have high cholesterol. Just remember that nuts are high in calories, so be sure to stick to a single serving size of about one ounce (not more than 24 almonds or 14 walnut halves), recommends the Cleveland Clinic.
Veggies are Mother Nature’s finest, and Americans are not getting enough of them,” says Joan Salge Blake, RD, clinical associate professor at Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Not only are they great for you if you have high cholesterol because they’re full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals — which contribute to good health — they’re also low in fat, sodium, cholesterol, and calories, which all contribute to heart disease. You don’t necessarily have to switch to a vegetarian diet to lower your cholesterol, but be sure to eat vegetables in a wide range of colors for the most health benefits. Try pairing them with hummus, which you can buy prepared or make at home from chickpeas or white beans. Hummus offers a healthy dose of fiber, protein, and antioxidants, among other benefits.