Healthy Snacking on a Low Cholesterol Diet

A good low cholesterol diet includes a lot of cholesterol-lowering foods—whether you have the time to cook a full course meal or have just enough time to grab and go.

Fruit , vegetables, and bread cut and on a table
Fruit , vegetables, and bread cut and on a table

Brian Leatart / Getty Images

Having too many things to do and too little time on your hands, eating healthy may be low on the list of your priorities. On some days, full course meals are neglected in favor of quicker, lighter snacks. Let’s face it—snacking is natural. If you are hungry between meals, your body is telling you that it needs nutrition now. So you need to eat something to curb your hunger until your next meal.

Eating the wrong snacks can get you into trouble. Snacks high in fats and carbohydrates are often conveniently packaged, but they can cause weight gain, heart disease, and high cholesterol.

The good news is that you have many options that are quick and healthy.

When grazing for food, keep these things in mind:

Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and fat. They also contain vitamins and antioxidants that work to keep your immune system healthy and to prevent cellular damage.

Aim for at least 5 to 7 servings of whole fruits and vegetables each day.

It’s easy to snack on raw or cooked fresh fruits and veggies. There are so many choices, you can easily pick the ones you like.

Just a few ideas:

  • Oranges, clementines
  • Grapefruit
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Kiwi
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Bananas

You probably would enjoy at least a few of these choices. The key is to remember to have them on hand.

Watch Your Saturated Fat Intake

Consumption of saturated fats should be limited or avoided since they are associated with higher blood cholesterol levels. Fried foods and animal meats are high in saturated fats.

On a side note concerning animal meats: lean meats, such as chicken, fish, and turkey are lower in saturated fat than red meat.

Watch What You Put on the Food That You Cook

Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, such as those used in many margarines and shortenings, contain a particular form of fat known as trans-fatty acids. These should also be avoided since they raise cholesterol levels. They are usually found in fried foods and processed foods, such as cookies, chips, and candies.

Dips and Toppings Restrictions

If you need to use salad dressing, sauces, or dips, try a low-fat alternative. But be sure extra sugar hasn’t been added to make up for the removal of fat.

Also, use them on the side instead of placing them directly on your food—you might use a lot less this way.

Try Low-Fat Varieties of Your Favorite Dairy Products

Selecting low-fat dairy products instead of their full-fat counterparts will also help to lower fat consumption. An example of this would be to substitute low-fat yogurt or nonfat milk instead of regular milk or yogurt.

Carbohydrates Are an Important and Quick Energy Source

Since some types of carbohydrates—desserts, white rice, and white bread—are quickly converted to sugar in the body, consuming too many carbohydrates can cause weight gain and elevated glucose levels. This can also increase your risk of diabetes. Additionally, research has indicated that consuming too many carbohydrates can lower HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

It’s best to choose whole grain products, such as wheat bread and oats, which are high in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. With the previous popularity of the Atkins diet, many food manufacturers have low-carbohydrate versions of bread and other grains. Low fat, unsalted pretzels, and unbuttered, unsalted popcorn are also good alternatives.

Nuts and Seeds (Preferably Unsalted) Are Good and Filling Snack Foods

Nuts are rich in unsaturated fats, which tend to lower total cholesterol levels. Nuts (especially walnuts) contain omega 3-fatty acids, which have been linked to lowering total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol levels, while raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL)—“good” cholesterol levels.

Seeds, including pumpkin and sunflower seeds, contain high amounts of Vitamin E, B vitamins, and minerals.

A Word From Verywell

If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, you might need to change some dietary habits. There are many tasty alternatives out there for you to try. If you have an absolute, not-so-healthy favorite snack that you like, you can still eat it, but only in moderation. If you are a die-hard junk food junkie, these alternatives can take some getting used to. Begin your journey to healthy eating gradually and with moderation. Your heart and the rest of your body will thank you!