Get enough protein in your daily diet is crucial for your overall health, and fortunately there are plenty of high protein foods there to choose. But for those with high cholesterol or trying to keep their cholesterol levels in check, finding the right protein sources for you can add an extra layer of challenges.
Animal proteins like red meat and processed meat (sausages, hot dogs, etc.) are generally higher in saturated fat, which has been associated with higher LDL cholesterol levels (the bad kind) and lower HDL cholesterol (the good kind). But if people remove this meat from their diet to manage cholesterol and don’t replace it with other proteins, they run the risk of not getting enough protein in their diets.
In order to find better proteins for your heart health, we spoke with Lauren Manaker, MS, RDNauthor of First Time Mom Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility. Here are the best proteins for lowering cholesterol, and for more healthy eating tips, check out The most crucial eating habit for high cholesterol.
If you’re looking for a protein source that isn’t high in fat but will still leave you feeling full, Beans are one of the simplest and most versatile options.
“Beans are a source of plant-based protein and their consumption is linked to lower cholesterol. The naturally soluble fiber found in beans is one reason why eating this protein source is ideal for those trying to lower their cholesterol. cholesterol,” Manaker says.
Whether you grab a handful for a mid-afternoon snack or supplement your oatmeal with a few, nut are an excellent source of heart-healthy protein.
“Walnuts are the only nuts that are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the essential plant-based omega-3 fatty acid,” says Manaker, “and data shows that people who ate about half a cup of nuts every day for two years slightly lowered their LDL, or “bad” cholesterol levels.”
Research has established a link between the consumption of refined carbohydrates and added sugars to higher cholesterol, but whole grains are a great carbohydrate option for reduce cholesterol because of their fiber and nutrient content.
“Whole grains, like quinoa, naturally contain protein as well as fiber, carbohydrates, and antioxidants,” says Manaker, “and eating quinoa has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol as well as a person’s glycemic response.”
And finally, if you’re looking for an easy and delicious food to add to your dinner, try a hearty serving of lentils. “Lentils are a source of plant-based protein that’s packed with antioxidants and fiber,” Manaker says, “and data shows that eating legumes, like lentils, can help lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol.”
And if you’re looking for ways to eat lentils, “they can be a great addition to sauces, stews, and even salads,” Manaker says.