Having high cholesterol doesn't automatically mean you have to give up bread entirely (unless your health care provider says so); however, it might mean switching to a healthier type of bread. Here are some of the best breads for high cholesterol and a low-cholesterol "bread" recipe you can try.
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Read more: 7-Day Low-Cholesterol Diet Menu
The Fiber Content in Bread
USDA ChooseMyPlate explains that bread is a grain product that is made of either whole grains or refined grains. The grain used is typically wheat, although rye, oats, barley and millet are some of the other grains that are also used to make bread.
Unless the bread you buy is labeled as a whole-grain product, chances are that it's made of refined grains. USDA ChooseMyPlate notes that refining grains increases their shelf life and gives them a finer texture, but it also strips them of their fiber and other naturally occurring nutrients like iron and B vitamins. Enriched grains are refined grains that have some of the nutrients added back; however, the fiber is not added back.
Why should you care about fiber? The American Heart Association (AHA) explains that eating a diet rich in dietary fiber can help improve your cholesterol levels and lower your risk of health conditions like stroke, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
To help you meet your fiber requirements, the AHA recommends that at least half the grains in your diet be whole grains and that you include as many different grains in your diet as you can so that you benefit from their varied nutrition content.
Read more: 10 Myths About Grains — Totally Busted
Best Breads for High Cholesterol
So, where does that leave you on the best breads for high cholesterol? Well, for starters, skip the white bread and try to buy only breads that are made with whole grains. If you can't tell whether a bread is made of whole grains or not, the AHA suggests looking at the nutrition label; the first ingredient listed on a whole-grain product usually contains the words "whole" or "whole grain."
You can also try making breads with different types of whole grains apart from wheat, like oat or flaxseed bread. A small study (60 patients), published in the September 2014 issue of the journal ARYA Atherosclerosis, found that eating oat bread helped lower cholesterol levels in patients with high cholesterol. Another small study (17 subjects), published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism in February 2012, found that flax bread also helped improve cholesterol levels.
Another option is to use vegetables as a substitute for the flour in your bread, since vegetables are also rich in fiber and have a number of other nutrients as well.
Read more: 10 Vegetable Recipes That Taste Like Treats
Low-Cholesterol “Bread” Recipe
If you're willing to bake your own bread and are open to the idea of substituting the flour in your bread with vegetables, try our Cauliflower Bread recipe. A low cholesterol "bread" recipe, it substitutes cauliflower for flour. Per the USDA, cauliflower offers not only fiber but also vitamin C.
You will need:
- 1 medium-sized cauliflower
- 2 eggs
- 1 clove of garlic
- 3 ounces of fresh, part-skim mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Here's what you need to do:
- Make a mashed cauliflower mixture: Remove the leaves and stem of the cauliflower and dice the florets. Put the florets in a food processor and process them until you have a mixture that is similar in consistency to mashed potatoes. Microwave the mixture for three to five minutes, until it softens.
- Combine all the ingredients: Add the remaining ingredients to the mashed cauliflower. Combine well. Transfer the mixture to a greased baking pan.
- Bake the loaf: Pop the baking pan into an oven that has been preheated to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Let it bake for 25 minutes or until the loaf starts to brown.
- USDA ChooseMyPlate: “All About the Grains Group”
- American Heart Association: “Whole Grains, Refined Grains and Dietary Fiber”
- ARYA Atherosclerosis: “Effects of Oat and Wheat Bread Consumption on Lipid Profile, Blood Sugar and Endothelial Function in Hypercholesterolemic Patients: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial”
- Nutrition & Metabolism: “Flaxseed Dietary Fibers Lower Cholesterol and Increase Fecal Fat Excretion, but Magnitude of Effect Depend on Food Type”
- USDA FoodData Central: “Cauliflower”