Want to cut cholesterol without cutting taste? Most people are afraid that "good for my cholesterol" means meals that are joyless (and tasteless). However, a low-cholesterol diet doesn't have to be all oat bran and tofu.
Here are some simple substitutions that you can make to the food you already eat to help fight cholesterol painlessly, from our friends at Health.com.
Sip Red Wine, Not Cocktails
Research suggests that moderate alcohol intake can produce a slight rise in HDL cholesterol (a so-called good cholesterol). But that won't do you much good if you're tossing back margaritas or mixed drinks with fruit juice, which contain carbohydrates.
Switch to red wine. It has about a tenth of the carbohydrates of a margarita, and you'll also get antioxidants such as flavonoids that are believed to lower LDL and boost HDL. Given the risks of alcohol, however, the American Heart Association recommends that you limit your daily intake to two glasses (for men) or one glass (for women).
Yes to Edamame and Nuts, No to Cheese and Crackers
For a pre-dinner snack, skip the crackers and cheese, which are sky-high in saturated fat - one of the prime culprits behind high cholesterol. Instead, put out some almonds, which have been shown to lower LDL, and edamame, the boiled baby soybeans that are a common appetite whetter in Japanese restaurants.
Edamame is low in saturated fat, and one cup contains about 25 grams of soy protein, which is thought to lower LDL (although the evidence is conflicting). Buy them frozen, dump them into boiling water, and drain after five minutes: That's all there is to it.
Tortilla chips are often considered a healthy alternative to potato chips. They are certainly healthier, but an even better snack is homemade air-popped popcorn, which has 80 percent less saturated fat than tortilla chips and more than twice the fiber.
As everyone knows by now, drenching a salad in high-fat salad dressing is like smoking cigarettes while jogging: It totally defeats the purpose.
A low-fat alternative--such as our shallot and grapefruit dressing--is a step in the right direction, but the best option for lower cholesterol is drizzling your salad with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
One tablespoon of butter contains more than 7 grams of saturated fat--that's more than a third of the recommended daily value. It also contains 10% percent of your daily value for dietary cholesterol, which, though it isn't as harmful as was once thought, is one of the main sources of high cholesterol (and atherosclerosis).
Switch the butter with a vegetable-oil-based spread such as Smart Balance or Olivio (which also contains olive oil); you'll be replacing a bad fat with a good fat. And instead of using butter to grease the pan while cooking, try olive oil or white wine vinegar.
While they have less saturated fat than red meat, turkey and chicken aren't entirely without cholesterol. One of the best strategies for reducing cholesterol through diet is eating more fish, which is very low in fat and contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Swap a chicken dish for a salmon or scallops dish.
"I'm keen, you're keen, we're all keen on quinoa!" People with high cholesterol will be singing this tune once they realize the benefits of quinoa (pronounced "KEEN-wah"), a South American seed that serves as a tasty and healthful stand-in for rice or couscous.
One cup of cooked quinoa has 15 percent fewer carbohydrates and 60 percent more protein than a comparable amount of brown rice; it also has 25 percent more fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol.
Whether it's used as a garnish or in a sauce, sour cream adds a shot of saturated fat to otherwise heart-healthy meals.
To cut out that excess fat without sacrificing taste or texture, swap the sour cream with tzatziki, a no-fat Greek yogurt - one of the world's healthiest foods. Just about any recipe that calls for sour cream can be made with Greek yogurt instead.