Seeds are packed with dietary fibre and healthy fats, which can help to lower cholesterol. They are also a good source of protein and full of all sorts of other nutrients, making them a great addition to meals, or eaten on their own as a snack.
Here are some of the ways I include seeds in my daily diet:-
1. Add ground flaxseeds to cereal or muesli
Adding a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds to your breakfast is a great way to increase its nutrient content. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseeds contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3 fatty acids and 1.9 grams of soluble fibre, which help to improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol (LDL). Experts recommend that flaxseeds should be eaten ground, rather than whole, so that they can be more easily absorbed by the body.
I make a really simple muesli by mixing together 1/3 cup rolled oats, 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds and 1-2 tbsp of goji berries. I eat it with soya yoghurt, which also helps to reduce cholesterol. As I have my breakfast at work, I prepare it the night before in a jar to take in. You can prepare a few jars at the same time in advance, as the yoghurt won’t make the oats too soggy.
2. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on pancakes
Sunflower seeds are an incredibly rich source of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E, thiamin, selenium and magnesium. They also contain monounsaturated fatty acids, which help to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL). They are delicious roasted in honey, or just plain, and sprinkled on breakfast pancakes.
3. Add flavoured mixed seeds to salads & vegetables
There are some great flavoured seeds available in supermarkets and health food shops, or you can make your own very easily. My favourite way to flavour them is to toast them with soy sauce – just mix a bag of seeds (i.e. sunflower, pumpkin, flaxseeds & sesame seeds) in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce. Then spread them over a baking tray lined with baking paper and put them in the oven (160C / 140 fan / Gas mark 3) for 10-20 mins. After 10 mins, check them every 5 mins to make sure they don’t burn, and remove when dry and golden. Sprinkle on salads and cooked vegetables, like broccoli, courgettes, butternut squash and aubergines.
4. Sprinkle sesame seeds on stir fries
Sesame seeds are rich in calcium, iron and magnesium, and they also contain phytosterols, which help to reduce blood levels of cholesterol, enhance the immune response and decrease the risk of certain cancers.
They are pretty inexpensive, and can be added to all sorts of dishes just before serving.
5. Use tahini in houmous recipes
Tahini is made from toasted ground hulled sesame seeds. Adding a couple of teaspoons to houmous can increase its cholesterol-lowering benefits, and it also tastes great. I add ground flaxseeds as well to add even more nutrients (see recipe here).
For more cholesterol-friendly recipes and tips on how to reduce cholesterol naturally, click here.