As we have all heard many times, eating a healthy breakfast every morning is critical if you want to start your day off on the right foot. In fact, eating a healthy breakfast is the only thing that has been correlated with sustained weight loss other than exercise. As the weight goes down, cholesterol levels often normalize. In addition, eating a healthy breakfast gives you an opportunity to include many wonderful cholesterol-lowering super foods into your diet. The trick is to know what constitutes a healthy, cholesterol-lowering breakfast.
To start, let’s talk a bit about what you do not want to eat for breakfast if you want to be healthy and lower your cholesterol too.
Most energy and breakfast bars
Most cold cereals including granola
Pancakes and waffles
Conventional bacon and sausages
You may be surprised that I didn’t add eggs to the above list. Conventional thinking states that you shouldn’t eat eggs because they contain high levels of cholesterol; however, eggs are actually a very healthy food in many ways. Even though eggs contain cholesterol, they raise most people’s cholesterol levels only slightly. Eggs are low in saturated fat and contain a host of other nutrients that are good for you too. You are much better off eating a hard-boiled egg than eating the other foods listed above. Even so, I would still eat no more than two to three eggs per week.
Some of you may also be surprised that I put cold cereals on the list. You may be thinking that the cold cereal you are eating is healthy because it is high in fiber and contains whole grains. Most cold breakfast cereals that have been tested to date raise blood sugar levels significantly. Even if your cereal doesn’t have added sugar, your blood sugar will respond just like it would if you were eating sugar. Why are sugar and other foods that raise blood sugar levels an issue? These types of foods will raise triglycerides which in turn will have some effect on raising total cholesterol levels as well.
If you must eat cold cereal, let me share with you a few tips on how to choose the best option even though I believe eating cooked whole grains is a preferable way to go if you want to eat grains for breakfast because cooked whole grains raise blood sugar levels less in most instances. So if you want to still eat cold cereal, make sure it is high in fiber, low in added sugar, and low in fat.
The other concern with foods that raise blood sugar levels is that they also increase inflammation in the body. Inflammation is now being thought of by some to be one of the root causes of heart disease. In addition, high cholesterol levels may be the result of an increase in inflammation and may possibly have protective benefits in a situation in which the body is inflamed. So what are a few quick, healthy, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering breakfast ideas? See a few suggestions below:
Strawberry Cream: Put about 1 cup of frozen, organic strawberries in a blender, add a tablespoon of whole flax seeds, add ½ cup to 1 cup low-fat yogurt, a small packet of stevia (just under ½ teaspoon powered stevia) and blend. You may need to use a spatula to stir the mixture. NOTE: Stevia can be purchased on-line or at a natural food store in your area. It is an herb that is significantly sweeter than sugar. It does not raise blood sugar levels at all and has zero calories)
Soaked Oats: Put one cup of traditional oats (not instant) in a bowl with nuts, seeds, and a small amount of dried fruit of choice. Pour water into the bowl until it is about ½ inch above the oat mixture. Cover and put in the refrigerator to soak overnight. Serve warm or cold with a cup of fresh blueberries or strawberries on top.
Mustard Sardines on Whole Grain Toast: Put one can of water-packed sardines with bones in a bowl. Mix with 2 tablespoons of mustard, one chopped stalk of celery, and 1 tablespoon chopped onion. Serve on whole grain toast.
There are a number of things that are great about the above recipes from a cholesterol-lowering perspective. Strawberries are high in soluble fiber which is a key to lowering cholesterol. Nuts and seeds contain healthy fats that are thought to raise HDL the “good” cholesterol and lower LDL the “bad” cholesterol. Oats are one of the top cholesterol-lowering super foods as most of you know. Sardines contain those wonderful omega-3 fatty acids as do flax seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential in terms of improving overall heart health and your cholesterol profile.