You’re thinking about how breakfasts must suck without your crispy bacon, poached egg, a cup of espresso, and fried toast. But you want to know what really sucks? High cholesterol levels.
We’re talking heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases. Bet you don’t want that, do you? So why don’t you educate yourself on how you can enjoy a whole hearty morning meal with a low cholesterol breakfast.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is an animal sterol/lipid present in the blood tissue and blood plasma of animals. Its highest concentration is usually found in the liver, spinal cord, and brain.
Cholesterol supports your body’s good health by playing multiple roles, including:
- Provide stability in your cell’s membrane.
- Initiate the synthesis of vitamin D3.
- Assist in producing body hormones such as cortisol, cortisone, aldosterone from the adrenal glands and serial hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, progesterone hormones.
Other functions include playing a role in brain synapses, the immune system, and food digestion through bile.
Sources Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol has two sources which are liver and food. From the liver, it’s called blood cholesterol, whereas dietary cholesterol is from animal-based foods such as meats, poultry, kinds of seafood, and dairy products.
Blood cholesterol from the liver, other organs in the body, and cell membrane attributes to 80% of the body’s total cholesterol. Because your body can’t produce anymore, the remaining 20% comes from dietary cholesterol (11)
If you consume more fats, your liver could compensate by lowering its production and removing excess cholesterol. However, that’s only theoretical since our bodies have different efficiency levels.
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Is Cholesterol Bad For You?
Cholesterol is essential for several roles in your body; however, there can be a negative side to it. Since lipids can’t travel themselves in blood, they need protein called lipoproteins to carry cholesterol throughout the body (8).
During transport, there are three distinctions:
- Low-density lipoproteins (LDL). They make up most of your body’s cholesterol and are bulkier than the other two.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL).
- Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL).
LDL is the “bad” cholesterol because excess of it causes a buildup on the walls of your blood vessels. The more LDL, the more your arteries continue to form the fatty deposit, leading to atherosclerosis (2).
As this continues, your arteries, which provide oxygenated blood to your heart and organs, will keep narrowing. Less blood is transported, raising your risk for heart diseases, stroke, angina(chest pain), other cardiovascular health issues (3).
What To Eat On A Low-Cholesterol Diet For Breakfast?
If this is new for you, you probably don’t know what to eat. Here are over ten low-cholesterol breakfast ideas.
1. High Fiber Foods
These foods contain soluble fiber that lowers your bad cholesterol by attaching it to your digestive tract and helping you remove it from the body. It also reduces its absorption into your bloodstream.
Examples of low cholesterol breakfast recipes with high fiber foods include five grams or a pack of dietary soluble fiber from oats, barley, or bran, paired with fruits such as apple slices, a pear, a banana, and berries for added fiber. Avoid adding sugar.
2. Whole Grain Breakfast Sandwiches
Next up is whole-grain breakfast sandwiches made from whole grain bread. Sandwiches offer the best way to eat low cholesterol, high protein breakfast because you can’t miss adding protein content to your sandwich. Delicious additions for your sandwich could include:
- Vegetables that contain phytosterols and other healthy chemicals that can help lower your LDL cholesterol.
- Meat from lean cuts, plant-based protein and healthier options such as soybeans and seafood.
- Thin slices of low-fat cheese.
- Heart-healthy sandwich spreads such as vinegar, mustard, or olive oil.
3. Whole Grain Pastry
When it comes to baking your breakfast, you also have several options, including homemade muffins made with whole-grain flour, vegetables, fruits, and plenty of nuts. You could also make apple bran muffins, which are classic and contain two fiber sources, apples and bran.
Fish contains the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re good fats that increase healthy HDL cholesterol in your body and reduce triglycerides in your bloodstream. Examples of fish you could incorporate in your breakfast include salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna, and other oily fish. These contain the highest concentration of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
To be on the safe side, stick to broiling, grilling, and steaming. These methods will help you avoid adding unhealthy fats to your meal.
First off, soybeans. They are a great protein alternative that can also lower your bad cholesterol by about 5% to 6% for every 25 grams of soy protein you consume. You could make it as a soup, make a chili with it or eat it with your toast.
Other beans such as kidney beans. Black-eyed beans, lentils, and chickpeas are rich in soluble fiber, which will help you reduce LDL cholesterol. There are many different ways you can cook them just ensure you don’t add in too much fats. Stick to healthy oils such as olive, sunflower, flaxseed and soybean oil.
6. Almonds and Nuts
Nuts contain healthy fat and protein that can aid improve your blood cholesterol. All nuts are high in calories, but there are great nut options such as walnuts and almonds filled with healthy fats, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins. Consuming about two ounces of nuts a day can equally lower your LDL cholesterol by 5%.
7. Avocado Toast
Toast doesn’t have to be boring. Smear on some avocado, and you have a healthy and trendy breakfast choice.
Avocados are high in monounsaturated fatty acids that lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases. They are rich in plant-based sterols that also lower cholesterol and are high in soluble and insoluble fiber.
8. Scrambled Egg White
Egg yolk contains all the cholesterol from an egg, leaving egg whites to be cholesterol-free and packed with protein. You could scramble a couple of egg whites and eat them together with a handful of vegetables for added fiber.
9. Orange Juice
Orange juice is an excellent source of vitamin C. It is a great add-on to your breakfast to make sure you meet your vitamins and minerals requirements.
10. Healthy Smoothies
You can make a smoothie with just about anything. The ingredients are what’s important to keep it healthy and cholesterol-free. Things you can add to the smoothie include:
- Low-fat milk. Replace it with Greek or regular yogurt for a thicker texture.
- Fruits. Frozen, canned or fresh.
- Nuts or peanut butter.
- Fresh herbs such as mint and rosemary.
- Whey protein. Studies show that whey protein may help lower cholesterol by lowering the triglycerides and fat in your blood (7)
11. Soy Or Almond Milk
You can also use milk from soybeans and almonds to add to your breakfast cereals or drink it by itself.
12. Yogurt Parfaits
Lastly, yogurt parfaits, which are low in fat. You could pair it with fruits such as bananas and berries, nutritional seeds, and high fiber foods such as oats.
13. Foods Fortified with Sterols and Stanols
Orange juice has sterols and stanols extracted from plants which help to reduce cholesterol by limiting the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. There are other foods you can get such sterols and stanols include margarine, some granola bars and chocolate. Besides, chocolate too can help with reducing LDL cholesterol (1).
You can opt for supplements from the store or go for these healthy options. At least 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can help reducing your cholesterol levels.
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How To Prepare A Low-Fat Low-Cholesterol Menu For Breakfast Without Giving Up Your Favorite Foods?
Traditional breakfast foods such as crunchy bacon, poached eggs, and buttery pancakes are high in cholesterol. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your breakfast. Below are tips on how to achieve a low cholesterol breakfast.
Before we jump into the tips, note that the best way to lower bad cholesterol is by regulating your dietary cholesterol. You can do so by reducing the consumption of saturated and trans fats. The American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fat to less than 6% of total daily calories. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s about 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat. (11)
Hence, this means that you need to limit or completely avoid saturated fats from animal products such as cheese, butter, milk, and meat. Luckily, even though low cholesterol breakfast foods don’t include sausages, ham, and fast food, you can still achieve a healthy meal.
Let’s have a look at ways you can prepare several breakfast items the healthy way.
Eggs are a given in any breakfast option. However, they contain fats and cholesterol that’s unhealthy for you. To make them healthier, you have three options:
- Use egg whites only. As mentioned above, the yolk contains all the cholesterol.
- Use one yolk rather than two if you opt for more eggs. The less yolk you consume, the less you consume dietary cholesterol.
- Add other ingredients into your eggs to cut down on the cholesterol. For example, you could add in low-fat milk, and vegetables, as with fritters and other brunch ideas.
If neither of these options works for you, you can also skip the eggs altogether and go for a substitute such as beans or seafood.
Cereals are filled with refined sugar, high carbohydrate content, and other processed ingredients which add cholesterol to the meal. To make healthy changes, consider these options:
- From the label, read the sugar and fat content and switch to the least available content. Always switch to the healthier cereal.
- Add in low-fat milk or soy and almond milk.
- Instead of added flavorings, consider using natural fruits such as frozen or real fruits, nuts, and spices like cinnamon.
- Check the fiber content in the cereal. Oatmeal, for example, contains a good amount of soluble fiber. Your cereal should compare to that.
Here’s yet another breakfast classic, except in this case, you will not go drizzling your favorite syrup. Instead, here are a few changes you can incorporate:
- Add spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger for some kick.
- Ads in extra fiber in the pancake batter by adding oats and other high fiber foods.
- For added sugar, skip the syrups and stick to fresh fruits.
Starchy Foods And Cheese
Whether it’s bread, sandwich, or bagels, you can prepare it the right way. Often foods such as bagels are calorie-dense and have other ingredients that add cholesterol. To make a healthy choice, you can:
- Use whole grain flour to make high-fiber foods. Even when you opt to buy out your foods, only go for high fiber wheat foods.
- Cream cheeses have high saturated fats. Use it sparingly, if at all. Otherwise, opt for low-fat spreads paired with healthy additions.
- Prepare high fiber muffins instead if you don’t get a high fiber bagel or whole-grain bread.
Other ways to achieve a healthy low cholesterol breakfast include:
- Emphasis on fruits, nuts, seafood, poultry, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and vegetables.
- Limited sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Use of non-hydrogenated vegetable oils such as olive oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil.
- Use of soft margarine in place of stock butter.
- Limit trans fat from cookies, doughnuts, and pies.
Other Ways To Lower Cholesterol
Cutting down on cholesterol doesn’t mean simply consuming a low-carb, low cholesterol breakfast; it also means lifestyle changes. Here are excellent ways you can use to lower your cholesterol.
- Partake in daily exercises for at least 30 minutes. You could also aim for 160 minutes of low-intensity exercise. Studies show aerobics and resistance training can immensely aid in lowering cholesterol.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Quit smoking. Smoking causes the hardening of your arteries, which further puts you at risk of heart disease or failure.
- Have a balanced diet. Limit or stay away from trans fats and saturated fats and eat foods rich in fiber.
- Reduce stress. Your stress hormone cortisol can affect your cholesterol production and cause a buildup of bad cholesterol. Instead, earn healthy ways to deal with anger, stress, or other negative emotions.
- Get in control of your blood sugar and blood pressure, especially for those who already have diabetes and issues with your blood pressure.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports a couple of medications that can treat high cholesterol levels. They include:
These medications are the most prevalent choice among all other cholesterol drugs. They work by reducing the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver, allowing more absorption of dietary cholesterol. Consequently, they help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, which is why they are so widely prescribed.
Available status in the USA include:
- Atorvastatin (Lipitor®).
- Fluvastatin (Lescol®, Lescol XL®).
- Lovastatin (Mevacor®, Altoprev®).
- Pravastatin (Pravachol®).
- Simvastatin (Zocor®).
- Pitavastatin (Livalo®, Zypitamag®).
You could also use drugs in combination. For example, medications such as Advicor® (lovastatin and niacin), Caduet® (atorvastatin and amlodipine), and Vytorin® (simvastatin and ezetimibe).
Statins may be common but not prescribed to everyone with high cholesterol levels. They work in the liver, so you shouldn’t be taking the drugs if you have liver issues. Otherwise, side effects of the drug may include muscle pain and memory loss.
Bile Acid Sequestrants
Another common medication includes bile acid sequestrants. They’re also called bile acid-binding drugs, which treat high cholesterol levels by clinging to the bile acid. These resins restrict the use of cholesterol for digestion, forcing the liver to make up more bile using more cholesterol, ultimately clearing up the cholesterol in the blood.
These drugs include:
- Cholestyramine (Questran®, Questran® Light).
- Colestipol (Colestid®).
- ColesevelamHcl (WelChol®).
These resins are also not prescribed to everyone as they have side effects such as constipation and stomach problems.
Fibrates, also known as fabric acid derivatives, are more effective at cutting triglyceride levels than reducing LDL cholesterol. They may also help to boost levels of HDL cholesterol.
These products include:
- Fenofibrate (Antara®, Tricor®, Fenoglide®, Fibricor®, Lipidil®, Lipofen®, Trilipix® and Triglide®)
- Gemfibrozil (Lopid®)
Other drugs that healthcare providers may prescribe to aid with decreasing LDL cholesterol include:
- PCSK9 inhibitors such as alirocumab and evolocumab. For this medication, you will undergo injections for these drugs every 2–4 weeks.
- Selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors, such as ezetimibe (Zetia®), lomitapide, or mipomersen.
- Adenosine triphosphate-citrate lyase (ACL) inhibitors, such as bempedoic acid (Nexletol®).
- Omega 3 fatty acids and fatty acid esters.
- Nicotinic acid, also known as niacin.
If your or a family member has hypercholesterolemia, a genetic condition involving high cholesterol levels, your doctor may recommend these medicines to lower cholesterol.
Some medications work through your genes. After trying out other medications and lifestyle changes, your body may still have issues with high LDL cholesterol. Therefore, doctors use a process called lipoprotein apheresis, which is genetic, to alter your genes.
They will use a piece of equipment to remove lipoproteins from blood and plasma and then return the blood and plasma to the body. The process is often combined with some of the new drug treatments such as statin or inhibitors.
Endeavor to start your day with a low cholesterol breakfast that’s filled with good cholesterol, nourishing foods, and low carb/low-fat alternatives. Use the above tips to prepare delicious meals and keep up with the lifestyle practices to lower and maintain your cholesterol.
Remember that a proper diet is not everything you need. Supplement it with this 20 Min Full Body Workout at Home challenge!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Almonds and Dark Chocolate Help Lower Cholesterol (2017, cardiosmart.org)
- Atherogenic Lipoprotein Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease and Residual Risk Among Individuals With Low Low‐Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Blood Cholesterol (2020, nhlbi.nih.gov)
- Cholesterol (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Cholesterol production in your body (2019, health.harvard.edu)
- Differential Effects of Aerobic Exercise, Resistance Training and Combined Exercise Modalities on Cholesterol and the Lipid Profile (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effect of whey protein on blood lipid profiles (2016, pubmed.Nih.gov)
- Introduction to lipids and lipoproteins (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Protective effect of dietary monounsaturated fat on arteriosclerosis: beyond cholesterol (2002, pubmed.nih.gov)
- Skipping breakfast leads to weight loss but also elevated cholesterol compared with consuming daily breakfasts (2014, cambridge.org)
- The skinny on fats (2020, heart.org)