So when it comes to taking care of your heart health and thinking about lowering your cholesterol through diet, what other foods can you turn to besides a bowl of oats? The good news is, you've got options: Foods with soluble fiber, healthy fats and other plant compounds can help lower your levels.
Here are four breakfast recipes to get you on your way.
1. Creamy Chocolate Cinnamon Smoothie
How can a chocolate smoothie help lower your cholesterol, you might ask? By adding beans into the mix. Beans are loaded with soluble fiber, and this type of fiber is especially beneficial for our hearts. One of the reasons, according to the Cleveland Clinic, is because soluble fiber binds to bile in our guts and flushes it from our systems. Bile is made up of cholesterol, so this type of fiber essentially helps to flush cholesterol from your body.
A half-cup serving of white beans, like the ones used in this recipe, has six grams of fiber — and we promise, you won't taste them.
2. Walnut and Flaxseed Soy Yogurt
Nuts were long chastised because they're so high in fat, but nowadays we understand that healthy fats are good for us, and they're especially good for our hearts. Nuts are also a good source of fiber, antioxidants and other heart-healthy plant compounds, according to the International Tree Nut Council.
This recipe calls for walnuts, which are unique from other nuts in that they provide a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids which, you guessed it, are good for the heart. A randomized controlled feeding study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in May 2019 found that using walnuts in place of saturated fats (think: processed meats like bacon and sausage) lowered total and LDL cholesterol levels.
3. Cinnamon and Spice Millet Porridge
Millet is an ancient grain and, according to the Whole Grain Council, it's staging a major comeback — and who doesn't love a comeback story? Millet is the cholesterol-lowering star in this dish, although the figs and pumpkin seeds help, too.
Researchers in an August 2015 meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reviewed data from 24 randomized studies comparing a whole grain group to a control (non-whole grain) group. The findings showed that eating whole grains, like millet, significantly lowered both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels compared to the control group. Millet also makes a great gluten-free option.
4. The Goob Peanut Butter Toast With Greek Yogurt and Grapes
The cholesterol-lowering stand out in this dish is the mighty grape, although the whole-grain bread and peanut butter offer benefits, too.
Grapes and other fruits like apples and citrus have pectin, which is a type of soluble fiber that is especially heart healthy. But in addition to the soluble fiber, grapes have been shown to reduce risk factors for heart disease, oxidative stress, inflammation and blood pressure, all of which play a role in heart health, according to the California Grape Commission.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:"Whole-Grain and Blood Lipid Changes in Apparently Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Studies"
- Cleveland Clinic:"Heart Healthy Eating to Help Lower Cholesterol Levels"
- Food Data Central:"Beans, White, Mature Seeds, Canned"
- International Tree Nut Council:"NutHealth.org"
- Journal of the American Heart Association:"Replacing Saturated Fat With Walnuts or Vegetable Oils Improves Central Blood Pressure and Serum Lipids in Adults at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease: A Randomized Controlled‐Feeding Trial"
- California Grape Commission:"Heart Health Research Highlights"
- Mayo Clinic: "Cholesterol: Top foods to improve your numbers"