The #1 Snack to Help Lower Cholesterol, According to a Dietitian
Cholesterol levels can get a little confusing. First there are "good" and "bad" types of cholesterol, and they're supposed to be in certain ranges. Not to mention, certain foods can help and hurt when trying to lower your cholesterol. What does it all mean? Having a grasp on what your cholesterol levels mean can be important for your heart health, so it's worth a brief explanation.
In short, cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in every cell in your body. Our body makes all of the cholesterol we need, but we can also get it from food (though eating cholesterol doesn't directly make your cholesterol go up). There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Too much LDL cholesterol can sometimes get stuck in our arteries, turning to plaque. The HDL cholesterol picks up excess LDL cholesterol and brings it back to the liver where it can be removed from the body. Having high cholesterol can mean you either have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood, not enough HDL cholesterol to clean it up or a combination of the two. Luckily for us, there are several foods that can help lower cholesterol and can help boost our "good" HDL cholesterol levels. Whole grains, particularly oats, fall into both of these categories.
One reason oats are the best cholesterol-lowering food is because they are high in soluble fiber. This type of fiber creates a coating in your small intestine that prevents cholesterol from entering the bloodstream, which can be very effective at lowering LDL cholesterol levels. Lowering your LDL cholesterol can help improve your overall HDL to LDL cholesterol ratio, and can make it easier for HDL cholesterol to do its job.
Pictured Recipe: Peanut Butter Energy Balls
So what's the best snack to eat to help lower your cholesterol? Oat energy balls. Well, technically any oats would work. But here at EatingWell, we love oat energy balls for a host of reasons. They're similar to granola bars but super easy to make (no baking required) and are perfect for grab-and-go. They can be made vegan, high-protein, gluten-free or with any flavor additions you choose. Plus, they rely on nutritious budget-friendly ingredients like oats, dried fruit, nut butter and more for endless flavor combinations. Simply make a batch on Sunday night and you'll have a nutritious snack at the ready for the whole week (we have plenty of energy ball recipes for inspiration).