Lower your cholesterol levels with your breakfast bowl
Oatmeal is a powerhouse of essential nutrients. From a cholesterol perspective, it contains both soluble and insoluble fiber – the two types of fiber that your body essentially needs.
One of the most important health benefits of enjoying a daily bowl of oatmeal is the soluble fiber, which is also found in beans, pears, and oranges. Soluble fiber can decrease the absorption of cholesterol in your bloodstream and thus helps reduce blood cholesterol numbers. Eating just one-half cup of cooked oatmeal per day can help bring down LDL cholesterol, the “bad” type by 5 to 8%, which is more problematic for your health.
On the other hand, the insoluble fiber, which is also found in the skins of many fruits helps keep us regular – good for overall health.
The good news is that the versatility of oatmeal offers a variety of different preparations is endless. Let’s discuss the most beneficial oatmeal habits you should follow to help lower cholesterol.
Top your oats with fruit
Eating a few servings of fruit a day provides many health benefits, including vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Most fruits contain insoluble fiber that helps in improving digestion, and certain fruits also have cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. Berries, apples, pears, and apricots are some of the fruits that have soluble fiber. You can add them to your bowl of oats to up its efficacy in lowering cholesterol!
Three-quarters of a cup of oats contains roughly three grams of soluble fiber, and adding a cup of one of these fruits to your bowl will enhance your soluble fiber intake by at least a gram. Every gram counts when you are trying to get at least ten grams of soluble fiber a day.
Swap the sugar
Fitness Buffhq, a Certified Nutritionist, recommends swapping sugar out for a healthier alternative. Diets high in sugar can cause your body to produce more of the “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower “good” HDL cholesterol level. American adults consume an average of 77 grams of sugar a day, which is more than three times the recommended intake for women. (Source)
Try to cut back on sugar intake whenever possible. For example, consider using a fruit topper as a sweet addition to your bowl of oats instead of sugar. If this suggestion doesn’t sound appealing, simply cut back on the sugar you are currently using by half and allow some time for your taste buds to adapt, and gradually try to give up on adding the sugar to oats.
Throw In Some Seeds
Flax, chia, and hemp seeds are excellent options for oatmeal toppers. They are rich in fiber and contain soluble fiber, too. When combined with the soluble fiber already present in oats and fruit, the addition of seeds can up the soluble fiber intake to five grams of soluble fiber in a single bowl of oatmeal.
On top of the fiber benefits, these seeds contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats that may also help in improving blood cholesterol numbers. Moreover, these seeds provide a few grams of protein per serving as well, a nutrient that should be part of every breakfast.
Choose a healthy liquid option
I prefer making my oatmeal bowl with water. But many of you might relish the creaminess of oats made with milk. There are a few important tips you should keep in mind while choosing milk that will help in your cholesterol-lowering goal. First, if you prefer dairy milk, go with one percent or skim milk to cut down on the amount of cholesterol you consume. Whereas a cup of whole milk has about 24 milligrams of cholesterol, one percent milk contains half that, and skim only contains five milligrams per cup.
Another great option is to go for plant-based milk alternatives such as soy, almond, or oat because they contain zero milligrams of cholesterol. And choosing oat milk will offer an additional gram of soluble fiber per cup, which will be a bonus.
Make sure to watch out for the ingredients in the milk option you intend to use. For example, many milk alternatives have added sugar which may, in fact, increase your cholesterol numbers.
Skip the butter
Melted butter atop a bowl of oatmeal may sound delicious to many. And you may have grown up eating oatmeal just like that. One tablespoon of butter has as much as roughly thirty milligrams of cholesterol. So, this butter topper will work against your goal of lowering cholesterol – significantly worse for those already having high cholesterol.
So, a tablespoon of butter plus whole milk in your oatmeal can cause your breakfast to have over 50 milligrams of cholesterol.
Our recommendation is to go for a healthier form of fat instead of adding butter to your oats. A great alternative is choosing nut butter such as almond or peanut because they offer heart-healthy fats.
Tip: If you like savory oatmeal, consider topping your oats with a few slices of avocado – a healthy fat.
As you can see from the above, there are many healthy ways to make a bowl of heart-healthy oatmeal that can help reduce your cholesterol numbers. All it needs is a few additional ingredients and a little creativity to make the most of the oats!
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, the USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”