Eating healthy isn’t always the easiest task: many of the most delicious things to eat take a toll on our physical health. You may love fried chicken, but cholesterol levels show that it doesn’t love you back. Luckily, there are foods that can help keep your LDLs in check.
And we’re not talking about boring and flavorless foods either; a bland, colorless diet is no way to live. When you eat healthy food that actually tastes amazing, lowering cholesterol becomes way less of a chore. These 20 superfoods will do both your taste buds and your body some good.
1. Tomatoes: 10/10 Italian grandmothers agree, tomatoes are amazing. These little flavor bombs are packed with potassium, vitamins A and C, and lycopene. Lycopene is a strong antioxidant that is also known to lower cholesterol.
Clint / Theseep.com
2. Black beans: These fiberous beans are more than amazing accouterments for your Chipotle bowl. They are a low-calorie source of plant-based power and are certified heart healthy! Clearly, they are a favorite of even the most presidential palates.
Peter Souza / White House
3. Strawberries: These red berries are packed with polyphenols, which can be useful in the regulation of the cardiovascular system. Ancient Romans used to use strawberries to treat depression and a whole host of other ailments.
Liberty Mills Farms
4. Tuna: Omega-3 fatty acids are only found in very specific foods, and tuna happens to be one of them! That makes the fish awesome for your heart and cholesterol levels over all. Tuna salad, tuna steaks, or even a little sashimi will do you right.
5. Okra: The southern delicacy is a great Bloody Mary topper and does double duty as a heart-healthy vegetable. Baked okra drizzled with lemon makes a simple and surprisingly great substitute for french fries. Also, major shout out to pickled okra!
Brian Peterson / Star Tribune
6. Dark chocolate: Yes, you heard it here folks. Eating chocolate can actually be good for you! Dark chocolate that’s over 75% has been proven to reduce cholesterol over time. Go ahead and treat yourself sans guilt (golden ticket not included).
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory / Wolper Pictures
7. Kale: It gets a bad reputation for being the go-to for green juice drinking, yoga attending health nuts everywhere, but we swear kale can actually be super good. This hearty green helps counterbalance sodium, making heart disease run for the hills.
8. Apples: Turns out they taste great even outside of a pie! These delicious fruits have powerful antioxidants that also promote blood flow and cellular function. Keep the doctor away and make apples a part of your diet — no matter what species you are.
9. Sweet potatoes: The benefits of sweet potatoes are pretty shocking. These autumnal veggies are full of fiber, potassium, and beta-carotene to keep your heart healthy. They simply could not be more delicious whether you bake them, mash them, or stick them in a stew.
10. Avocado: Maybe you don’t want to put them on toast. That’s fine! Eat them any way you like because they have been proven to lower LDL cholesterol when eaten often. Are the doctor’s orders to eat more guacamole? Possibly.
Seymour the Squirrel / Youtube
11. Blueberries: These little blue wonders lower your blood pressure and increase circulation, making them a treat with zero downsides. They might be blue, but they certainly won’t make you feel that way.
12. Quinoa: This ancient grain makes a great base for bowls, topper for salads, or simple side dish. There is no end to its benefits, which include antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin B. Consumption will help lower your LDL numbers.
13. Peanut butter: Half of America’s favorite sandwich has no qualms about flying solo when need be. Peanut butter contains resveratrol and other phytosterols, which help block cholesterol absorption in the gut. There is no wrong way to eat it.
Buzzfeed Video / Youtube
14. Olives and olive oil: Monounsaturated fatty acids are associated with improving cholesterol, and they are known to reduce inflammation. So enjoy these salty snacks to your heart’s content!
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15. Potatoes: Spuds are already a gift to the world. In any form they are utter perfection, but baked potatoes specifically are the most nutrient dense. They are higher in potassium than bananas, making them great for you.
16. Grapes: They are the basis for wine, making them a phenomenal fruit from the start. As an added bonus, they have polyphenolic compounds, which help repair cellular damage and reduce inflammations.
sherb101 / Youtube
17. Pistachios: These nuts taste amazing and are super fun to eat as you crack open those tiny shells. They also help protect from oxidative stress, which is the plaque that builds up in your arteries. Get crackin’!
18. Pumpkin: It’s not just for Halloween. Enjoy pumpkin year round in baked goods, soup, or sauces to get its full benefits. It’s rich in antioxidants and very delicious, as evidenced by the many pumpkin spice products on the shelves come October.
19. Sardines: These little fish are a controversial food option, but like tuna, they have those all-important omega-3’s. And, they have less mercury than many other fish, making them a true nutrient champion.
20. Bananas: There are already a hundred reasons to love bananas, but here’s another! They are heart healthy and help remove cholesterol from the system. Be careful, though, with some foods that claim to lower LDLs.
Compared to cereal brands that are blasted with sugar and marshmallows, Cheerios seem like a safe bet for breakfast. After all, General Mills ran all those commercials about how they lower your cholesterol. But these ads don’t tell the full story.
Amy Mayes Photography
Ken Cook, founder of the Environmental Working Group, had his doubts. EWG is a nonprofit that promotes safe agricultural practices and corporate accountability, but even its diligent workers didn’t take notice of breakfast cereals for a long time.
More than ever, consumers are paying close attention to what goes into their foods. But much of the focus goes to fresh produce, which may or may not come into contact with pesticides. Other foodstuffs fly under the radar.
Genetic Literacy Project
Everything changed in 2019, when a tip led EWG to examine Cheerios and other oat-based brands. Shockingly, they found something not listed anywhere on the cereal box ingredients — something chemical.
Natural Products Global
Of course, it’s no surprise to anyone that all kinds of substances go into our food, or that companies are intrinsically changing the nature of their products. Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, have allowed crops to grow bigger and resist threats.
Then again, there are good versions of GMOs and bad versions of GMOs. But EWG found a number of breakfast staples contained an incredibly dangerous chemical, one not meant for ingestion. It had to be the worst surprise ever stuffed in a cereal box.
YouTube / Toy Picnic
In the vast majority of their Cheerio tests, EWG found glyphosate. That name may not mean much to the average joe, but chemists know it as one of the main ingredients in Roundup weed killer.
Now, glyphosate is an effective pesticide that wipes out plants that would otherwise choke crops and suck up much-needed water from the soil. But when Ken and his team discovered this poison entered our food, they knew they had to act.
It’s vital to note that General Mills isn’t the first company to run into glyphosate-fueled controversy. Agro-giant Monsanto found itself barraged with similar accusations. These claims, however, had deadly proof backing them up.
March Against Monsanto
Dewayne Johnson, a California groundskeeper, won a nearly $300 million suit in 2018 after the court found that Roundup, a Monsanto product, gave him cancer. A slew of similar cases immediately followed.
Activists have been targeting Monsanto for years, but the entry of General Mills into the saga was a big surprise. It also begged the question: was America’s most popular cereal secretly a carcinogen?
General Mills, to their credit, admitted that a small number of pesticides did make its way into just about every one of their products. But they protested that they only allowed a safe amount to go through.
If you can believe it, the U.S. government actually agreed with them. The Environmental Protection Agency has legal limits for herbicide traces in foods, and General Mills didn’t exceed the maximum amount of glyphosate.
However, many critics were hesitant to accept the EPA’s findings. Big agricultural firms like Monsanto run huge lobbying campaigns to get politicians on their side. Was it possible they and General Mills pulled a few strings to sweep the issue under the rug?
That remains to be seen, though Dr. Paolo Boffetta offered a third-party perspective. The respected oncologist affirmed that low levels of pesticides “are unlikely to cause health effects in consumers.” But he did add a note of caution.
Dr. Boffetta warned cereal fans everywhere to keep tabs on just how much glyphosate is in a meal. Bouncing off that opinion, the EWG wondered if the pesticide had a greater impact on younger consumers.
With so many groups unable to reach a consensus on whether traces of glyphosate are, in fact, harmful to humans, the debate rages on. Interestingly to note, Ken Cook and his team do have some eyebrow-raising connections in the food industry.
Many of the EWG’s tests receive funding and publicity from pro-organics groups. This seems like more of an alliance than a true conflict of interest, but it still brings up some questions given the fact that many “organic” items still contain chemicals.
The jury is still out on pesticides in Cheerios. The best case scenario is that it’s harmless, while the worst is that the chemicals could cause serious illness. That’s enough to prompt many to ditch their cereal in exchange for eggs and toast! Still, there have been far stranger chapters in the history of breakfast cereal.
Lehigh Valley Live
Modern doctors may very well recommend Corn Flakes as part of a balanced breakfast. In the 1890s, physicians would have also suggested a large bowl of cereal — but for another purpose entirely.
The origins of Corn Flakes go back to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. A leading expert on the well-being of mind, body, and soul, he amassed a large following across the United States. And these devotees were willing to do just about anything he told them.
Kellogg founded his Mecca of health at Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. Here, he introduced patients to a rigorous lifestyle based on cutting-edge science — much of which turned out to be total nonsense — and the religious tenets of Seventh-day Adventism.
According to Kellogg’s faith, basic habits had devastating effects on the body and mind. Everyone in the sanitarium had to abstain from meat, alcohol, and sex. After all, Kellogg proclaimed, even the act of masturbation had the potential to drive one insane.
To cure the ailments caused by carnal impulses, Kellogg devised a number of strange therapies. He put patients in tubes of electrified wires or made them stand next to a revolving machine that repeatedly slapped them.
Strange as it sounds now, the well-to-do of the 19th century bought into Battle Creek’s methods. They hailed Dr. Kellogg as a genius and a saint. He was so incredibly giving, and he even gave his poor brother a job.
His younger sibling Will Keith Kellogg was struggling with his broom-selling business, so he came to work at the sanitarium. Despite his connection to the big man himself, Will got stuck with the grunt work.
While John gave lectures and devised new treatments, he stuck Will in the kitchen. The younger brother slaved away making all kinds of bland vegetarian fare, supposedly to help remove base instincts. One recipe, however, went awry.
In 1894, Will forgot about a lump of dough and left it out overnight. By the time he returned, it had grown stale and spotted with mold. While the dough didn’t seem edible, Will didn’t want to get in trouble for wasting ingredients.
YouTube / Comedy Central
Already disillusioned with his job, Will chose to grind up and bake the dough anyway. He didn’t expect anyone would notice the difference. However, when he removed the dish from the oven, he saw something amazing had happened.
YouTube / Jack C. Lamb
The dough came out in crispy flakes, which Will had never seen the likes of before. Curious, he sampled one. It was delicious. He took the flakes and ran up to John’s office. This discovery, he thought, could finally earn his big brother’s respect.
John reacted with just as much enthusiasm as his younger brother. He made these corn flakes a regular part of the sanitarium menu — not just because they were tasty, but because he reasoned their blandness would curb certain desires.
YouTube / PBS
Namely, the desire to self-pleasure. Will recognized an opportunity to make a lot of money, but John refused to profit off of their cure-all. It wouldn’t be ethical, he said. As the brothers bickered, they didn’t notice that others were looking to rip them off.
The Road to Wellville
Businessman C.W. Post stayed at Battle Creek for a brief time and got a full rundown of how the cornflakes were made. To the Kelloggs’ surprise, he opened his own cereal company once he returned home, copying their recipe down to the smallest detail.
This deception outraged both Kelloggs, but they couldn’t agree on the proper response. John was confident corn flakes’ merits as an anti-masturbation food were sufficient. Will, on the other hand, had plans to turn it into a tasty treat.
Medicine at Michigan
He argued that the two of them could make a fortune by just adding sugar to the flakes. John wouldn’t hear any of this blasphemy, and that was when Will decided he didn’t need his famous brother. He would start his own cereal company under the Kellogg name.
John sued his younger sibling, but to no avail. Sugar-blasted and brilliantly marketed, the Kellogg Company flourished under Will’s direction. As the new century arrived, he became one of America’s leading industrialists. He came up with some bright ideas too.
He blew away breakfast cereal competitors by introducing the free prize inside the box, originally in the form of a pop-up picture book. The former kitchen worker had earned the respect of everyone around him, with the exception of his brother.
John kept his health empire going in spite of waning popularity. However, his credibility took a major hit when Battle Creek Sanitarium shut down amid the Great Depression. He died in 1943, having gone decades without speaking to Will.
Eight years later, Will passed away a wealthy man. His cereal brand is selling as strongly as ever, though it lacks most of the “health benefits” that John intended. Just remember that your next bowl of corn flakes is a little piece of history.
Health Begins With Mom