Food is the foundation of our existence so as cholesterol lowering snacks . It is the source of our energy, mood, strength, growth, and the essential ingredient that keeps all of our organ systems functioning. What we eat decides how we live through each day. Even though science has developed enough to create synthetic nutrient supplements, it is undeniable that the natural ones inside food will always be a favourite. A warm meal can protect us from many things. It can give us a good dose of vitamins and minerals that lower the risk of sickness and diseases, while also boosting the healing of any existent damage. Without healthy food, a lot of harmful factors can attack the body. Out of these, one of the most dangerous ones can be bad cholesterol. Having a high amount of bad cholesterol puts your body under immense strain and fatigue. It also increases the risk of many diseases, especially ones related to the heart. Due to our changing lifestyle patterns these days, high amounts of bad cholesterol are increasingly common, both in young and old people. It is important to form healthy habits to counter that. Luckily, food is our savior once again, and putting together a list of cholesterol-lowering snacks can be an excellent way to begin! What is Cholesterol Lowering Snacks ? Cholesterol is not some mysterious substance. Rather, it is produced in your body itself, by your liver. It is a wax-like texture and is needed to boost healthy cell growth and produce hormones, Vitamin D, other components that aid digestion, etc. Cholesterol is also externally through animal-based foods such as meat and dairy. Cholesterol is circulated throughout your bloodstream by particles known as lipoproteins, which are a hybrid of lipids (fat) and proteins. The nature of these lipoproteins determines the kind of cholesterol transported. First, there is the “good cholesterol” which is also known as high-density lipoproteins (HDL). These lipoproteins carry the excess harmful cholesterol back to the liver from where it is eliminated and keep the body safe. Then there is the “bad cholesterol” which is also known as low-density lipoproteins (LDL). This is the cholesterol that combines with other substances in the blood to form plaque and is then transported to the walls of the arteries. Hence, a build-up of this plaque can cause blockages in your artery, which increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. This can happen both due to an increase in bad cholesterol or a decrease in good cholesterol, which helps remove it from the body. Are there any signs of high cholesterol? Healthy cholesterol levels vary by age and biology, but any amount exceeding 240 mg/dL is considered high in adults. High cholesterol usually doesn’t have any symptoms unless it culminates into a medical condition due to excess plaque formation. Thus, it is important to get your cholesterol levels tested regularly, so you can keep them in check. If you have a family history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart diseases, and diabetes, always inform the doctor because they might recommend more frequent screening. Is it possible to lower cholesterol? Yes, it is possible to lower cholesterol and bring your body to a place of low-risk good health. The essential remedy for this is making lifestyle changes. This includes eating a healthier diet, regularly exercising, trying to reduce harmful coping mechanisms such as smoking, taking care of yourself, mental health and mood, etc. Let’s begin this change by discussing foods that lower cholesterol! 11 Best cholesterol-lowering snacks The word ‘diet’ can have a lot of negative connotations in people’s heads. However, a diet doesn’t have to mean reducing the food you eat or not giving up your favorite meals. Rather, it only means being responsible and aware of your food choices, balancing nutrition and taste. Most importantly, it means being content with the decisions you make! Thus, you notice that this list of best cholesterol-lowering snacks has a lot of your go-to foods, too. That’s because a diet is supposed to accommodate both your wants and needs. No one said that one can’t have fun when pursuing good health. We can always satisfy both our minds and our bellies! With that said, here are 11 foods that lower cholesterol: 1. Whole grains Whole grains are popular both for being delicious and generously transporting all their inner nutrition into your body without cutting any slack. Whole grains contain many minerals, vitamins, and plant-based compounds that boost your health. Out of these, soluble fibre is the most important because it reduces the amount of cholesterol while also keeping your gut functioning well. Barley and oats in particular contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucan. This means that they lower both the overall amount of cholesterol as well as LDL levels. You can inculcate them into your daily diet easily, such as having oatmeal or barley cereals for breakfast. Also, because of these amazing qualities, whole grains have been linked to reducing the risk of heart diseases! 2. Avocados Avocados get their very own point on this list because they have been commended for their high nutrients, high amount of monounsaturated fats, and fibres. This means that avocados contain zero cholesterol and can be excellent additions to your meals. You can swap other ingredients with them and they will lower the overall cholesterol content in your food. You can eat them by themselves, include them in a homemade dessert, or even eat them in spicy guacamole. Avocados can aid in increasing the amounts of “good” cholesterol and reduce the amounts of “bad” cholesterol. 3. Dark chocolate Yes, you heard that right: dark chocolate is an incredible cholesterol-lowering snack and it can make your deserts much healthier. Dark chocolate and cocoa can prevent the oxidation of the “bad” cholesterol in your bloodstream, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It can then also lower the amount of “bad” cholesterol while leaving you with smacking the sweet temptation from your lips. However, added ingredients may take away from the cholesterol-lowering benefits of dark chocolate and cocoa. Packaged dark chocolate bars can often have sugar mixed with them, so always be sure to check that. Either way, you will be ingesting a portion of good health along with that sinful taste! 4. Olive oil Extra virgin olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids, which aid in the reduction of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels and increase HDL levels (“good” cholesterol”) in your body. Olive oil also contains polyphenols which are anti-inflammatory and can reduce any inflammation that is harmful to your heart. It can also strengthen the lining of your blood vessels and possibly even prevent excessive clotting. The best part? Olive oil can be added to literally any food and you can enjoy its cholesterol-lowering benefits with your favourite dishes! 5. Vegetables Vegetables are a rich source of plant-based compounds which are very helpful against increased “bad” cholesterol levels. Moreover, each vegetable comes with its own special power, such as a high amount of antioxidants, fibre, vitamins, etc. For example, vegetables such as okra, potatoes, eggplant, and carrots contain a cholesterol-lowering soluble fibre called pectin. Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale contain anti-oxidizing carotenoids which remove harmful free radicals that can harden your arteries. These vegetables can also lower cholesterol by binding with bile acids and then guiding your body into eliminating the excess. Liquidized vegetable oils such as sunflower, canola, safflower, etc. are also cholesterol-lowering alternatives for ingredients like butter. Hence, vegetables as cholesterol-lowering snacks come in various shapes, sizes, and types! 6. Fatty fish Fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which increase the “good” cholesterol levels in your body. They also help in reducing triglycerides in your blood. Triglycerides are a type of fat found which is converted from any excess calories, sugar, or alcohol present in your body. Cholesterol-lowering fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel eliminate these excesses while also reducing any inflammation. The way you cook your fish also determines its overall health effects. Poaching and steaming can help maintain the existing nutrients in your fish without adding any excess cholesterol. 7. Beans and Legumes Legumes, particularly beans, are excellent cholesterol-lowering snacks due to their high soluble fibre, protein, and mineral content. They are natural sources for all these wonderful nutrients and can also support and protect your heart. They can be more filling than other foods, keeping you more satisfied after meals, while working their magic inside your system. They also come in various forms: be they comma-shaped kidney beans, or clumsy peas, or even tiny, colourful lentils. You can include them in all your favourite foods, combining them with other foods that lower cholesterol and enjoying the resulting deliciousness. 8. Soy Soy is a protein found in soybeans, which are also part of the legume family. This can help in reducing “bad” cholesterol levels, in a small but important amount. Soy foods are also rich in minerals, anti-oxidants, polyunsaturated fats, etc. These will not deposit extra cholesterol in your body. Soy can be consumed directly through soybeans, tofu or soya milk, amongst other dishes. It can be a more accessible option since soy milk can be consumed by those who are lactose-intolerant and vegan. However, keep in mind that additional ingredients might be present in soy foods. For example, soy sauce is high in salt content and hence, might not be the most healthy option for some people. 9. Fruits After the mention of avocados above, the entire fruit family is here to shine. Fruits and berries contain soluble fibres, particularly in the case of apples, citrus fruits, grapes, and strawberries. These contain a fibre called pectin which has cholesterol-lowering abilities and can take away the excess“bad” cholesterol Fruits also contain bioactive compounds which are anti-oxidizing and anti-inflammatory, along with many beneficial plant-based compounds. They also taste wonderful and are great replacements for sugar! 10. Nuts Nuts are rich in nutrients such as monosaturated fats and even polyunsaturated fats as in walnuts. They also contain phytosterols which have a structure similar to cholesterol and can hence prevent its absorption into your intestines. Certain nuts like almonds can also help regulate blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease. Nuts can easily be added to your diet, through cereals, sundaes as well as just eaten by themselves as a snack! 11. Tea Yes, your daily cup of warm tea might be more beneficial than you think! Different types of tea, such as green, black or white tea, all have their share of nutrition. Tea contains catechins which stop the synthesis of cholesterol, blocking its absorption and also preventing blood clots. Tea also contains quercetin which is a compound that has anti-inflammatory effects and improves the functioning of blood vessels. Of course, how you prepare your tea and what all you add to it makes a difference, but tea is surely a nice sip of good health that one should enjoy freely. Eating well, eating healthy Ultimately, it is clear that while there are many foods that lower cholesterol, the key to physical and mental wellness is consistency. Instead of forcing yourself into a diet that you will give up on with a few weeks, try coaxing your body into healthier patterns gently. Try not to shame yourself into swapping your favorite foods for cholesterol-lowering snacks. Instead, make responsible food choices while also indulging every once in a while. Be gentle with yourself and pat yourself on the back every time you stick to your plan and hug yourself every time you wish you had. After all, the flower of good health must always bloom on grounds of love and self-care and that can never be compromised.