If your doctor has suggested you start eating better and exercising to improve blood cholesterol levels, you're not alone. More than 33 percent of Americans have high LDL cholesterol levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While a number of breakfast foods are notorious for raising blood cholesterol levels, such as bacon and eggs, a few may actually improve your numbers. Starting your day off with a cholesterol-lowering meal may help you make better choices the rest of the day.
Not only does oatmeal help warm you up on those cold winter mornings, but its beta glucan -- a type of soluble fiber -- helps improve your cholesterol numbers. The soluble fiber in the oatmeal slows digestion and grabs bile salts -- which contain cholesterol -- as it moves through your gastrointestinal tract and eliminates them in your waste, thus helping decrease cholesterol absorption and your blood cholesterol levels. Try to get 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day; a 1/3-cup of dry oatmeal contains 1.3 grams.
Apples also contain soluble fiber -- 1.2 grams in a medium apple -- but not the same type of soluble fiber found in oatmeal. Apples contain pectin, the soluble fiber responsible for lowering cholesterol. The pectin in the apple works in the same fashion as the beta glucan in the oatmeal. Cut up an apple and use it as the sweetener for your oatmeal, or simply eat it off the core as you're getting ready for work. Oranges, strawberries, grapes and other citrus fruits also contain pectin.
Fortified Orange Juice
Drink a glass of orange juice fortified with the cholesterol-lowering plant sterols and stanols. These naturally occurring substances are very similar in structure to your body's own cholesterol and compete with your cholesterol for absorption in your digestive tract. This competition prevents the absorption of your cholesterol and helps lower your numbers. Getting 2 grams of these plant sterols and stanols each day can lower your cholesterol by 10 percent, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
Replace your cow's milk with soy milk to lower cholesterol. Soy milk contains a number of substances that may help lower cholesterol, including trypsin inhibitors, phytic acid and saponins. The trypsin inhibitors and saponins work like the soluble fiber in apples and oatmeal, binding with bile acids in your digestive tract, preventing them from being reabsorbed and eliminating them through your stool. You can also try tofu scramble for breakfast as a cholesterol-lowering alternative to cholesterol-laden scrambled eggs.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Cholesterol: Facts
- Harvard Medical School: 11 Foods That Lower Cholesterol
- Columbia Health: Go Ask Alice!: A Bowl of Oatmeal a Day Keeps the Cholesterol at Bay?
- University of Colorado Colorado Springs: Soluble Fiber vs. Insoluble Fiber
- Cleveland Clinic: Phytosterols: Sterols & Stanols
- Circulation: Soy Protein and Cardiovascular Disease