Breakfast is a great opportunity to fit lots of cholesterol-reducing foods into your daily diet. I try to include at least one of these in my breakfast every morning:-
- Sunflower/chia seeds
- Ground flaxseeds
- Baked beans
- Soya yoghurt
I tend to have something simple like muesli during the week, so at the weekend I like having something cooked, preferably something that doesn’t take too long to prepare. Eating foods high in saturated fats can increase bad cholesterol, so I make sure I keep the saturated fat content as low as possible by:-
- Cooking with olive oil instead of butter.
- Grilling instead of frying.
- Using semi-skimmed instead of whole milk.
- Eating back bacon instead of streaky bacon.
- Boiling or poaching eggs instead of frying.
There are quite a lot of different breakfast options that will actively help lower cholesterol. Here are my favourites:-
1. Avocado & Poached Egg on Toast
Wholemeal (wholegrain) bread is a great breakfast choice because it contains dietary fibre, which can help to lower bad cholesterol (LDL). You can buy all sorts of varieties of bread that contain other cholesterol-reducing ingredients such as oat bran, soya flour, linseeds, sunflower seeds and barley. For example:-
- Allinson Wholemeal Bread Loaf
- Burgen Soya And Linseed Bread
- Hovis Good Inside Wholemeal Bread
- Warburtons Seeded Batch Bread
- Vogel’s Soya And Linseed Bread
Having half an avocado on your toast instead of butter will decrease the saturated fat content and increase the nutritional content of your breakfast. Avocados are rich in cholesterol-reducing monounsaturated fats and they also contain plant sterols, which reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food.
Eggs contain plenty of vitamins and minerals and are a good source of high-quality protein, so are a great breakfast option. In the past it was thought that people should limit the number of eggs in their diet because they contain cholesterol, but current evidence suggests that dietary cholesterol doesn’t actually increase the risk of heart disease in most healthy people. It’s recommended that those with high cholesterol should limit their egg intake – I’ve written another blog post that contains more information on this.
I love poached eggs because you don’t need to use any butter or oils for cooking, which keeps the saturated fat content down. I’ve never managed to master ‘proper’ poached eggs, so I just cheat with these silicone egg poachers:-
Just crack an egg into each, place in a saucepan with just enough boiling water to make them float, put a lid on the pan, then allow to simmer until the eggs are cooked to your liking (2-4 mins).
2. Baked Banana & Nut Butter Oatmeal
Oats are one of the cheapest and simplest things you can eat to help lower bad cholesterol (LDL). I try to eat them every day if I can. I found this easy baked oatmeal recipe by ‘Happy Healthy Mama’ a few weeks ago. It’s great if you’re after a warm and comforting breakfast during the great British winter/(summer!) months.
It makes 6-8 servings, so you can cut up any leftovers into bars to snack on later. Almond butter is much more effective at lowering cholesterol than peanut butter, because it contains more monounsaturated fats and fewer saturated fats, so I generally opt for the former.
3. Baked Beans on Toast
Beans on toast – so simple, yet so healthy! Beans are very effective at lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) because they are high in soluble fibre. Tinned baked beans tend to be high in sugar and salt, so I generally buy the reduced sugar and salt varieties.
Wholemeal (wholegrain) bread is best because it contains dietary fibre, which can help to lower cholesterol even more.
4. Porridge with Flaked Almonds
Porridge is another excellent breakfast choice. Oats are great for actively lowering cholesterol, and you can add all sorts of other cholesterol-lowering foods to your porridge, for example:-
- Ground flaxseeds
- Grated apple
- Flaked almonds
- Sunflower seeds
5. Smoked Salmon & Avocado Bagel
Including protein in your breakfast will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Smoked salmon is a great choice because it is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to increase your good cholesterol (HDL).
I spread avocado on my bagels instead of cream cheese to reduce the amount of saturated fat, and increase the nutritional content.
Wholemeal bagels are much healthier than white bagels, and will help to lower cholesterol because they contain dietary fibre. Don’t forget to add ground black pepper and lemon juice to the salmon just before serving to make it even tastier.
6. Pancake with Yoghurt & Berries
This healthy delicious pancake contains oats and ground flaxseeds, both of which help to lower bad cholesterol (LDL). The eggs increase the protein content, so this breakfast will keep you full for hours. I sprinkle flaked almonds or seeds on top, which also help to lower cholesterol.
7. Almond Butter & Banana on Toast
If you don’t have much time to make breakfast, this is a really simple, quick and delicious option. Experts recommend eating a handful of almonds a day because they are full of nutrients and can also help to lower cholesterol. A great way to include almonds in your diet is to eat 1-2 tbsp almond butter spread on wholemeal toast. The sliced banana goes really well with it, and contributes towards your 5-a-day.
8. Homemade Muesli & Yoghurt
Muesli is a brilliant way to add cholesterol-reducing oats to your daily diet. There are tons of different varieties of muesli available these days, but beware of ones with added sugar. I make my own so that I know exactly what’s going into it, and it also means I can add extra ingredients that help to lower cholesterol, e.g. ground flaxseeds and flaked almonds.
I have breakfast at work on weekdays, so I prepare a really simple muesli the night before and put it in a jar to take to the office. It consists of 1/3 cup of rolled oats, 1 tbsp of ground flaxseeds and 1-2 tablespoons of goji berries. I add them to the jar, put the lid on, give it a good shake, then I add about 4 tablespoons of plain soya yoghurt layered on top. The goji berries give it enough sweetness, so I don’t need to add extra sugar or honey, and I find it keeps me full until lunch.
9. Overnight Oats
I know I keep going on about oats, but they really are one of the best things you can eat to help lower cholesterol. And they’re so cheap and simple to prepare. Overnight oats are a great alternative to muesli or porridge, and there are lots of recipes available online, such as these from the Quaker Oats website.
10. Homemade Breakfast Bar
This breakfast bar is similar to the baked oatmeal bar above, but instead of cooking this one, you freeze it for 1 hour. It contains rolled oats, ground flaxseeds and nuts, all of which can help to lower cholesterol.
11. Breakfast Smoothie
Smoothies are an incredibly simple way to cram lots of cholesterol-reducing ingredients and nutrients into one meal. I keep bags of chopped fruit in the freezer, which I just chuck into the smoothie maker with other healthy ingredients. These are my favourites:-
- Ground Flaxseeds
- Almond butter/whole almonds
- Soya yoghurt
For extra nutrients:-
- Frozen berries
I prefer my smoothies with a bit of water or milk added so that they’re not too thick and gloopy. You can also add protein powder to increase the protein content.
12. Oatcakes with Toppings
Oatcakes are a great alternative to bread for breakfast, and they’re very versatile. There are lots of different cholesterol-friendly foods you can add as toppings – click here for some ideas.
Click here to see my top tips for lowering cholesterol, and keeping it low.