Fruit is an important part of a balanced, healthy diet. In addition to their many vitamins and nutrients, fruit is also full of many cholesterol-friendly ingredients, including soluble fiber and phytosterols – both of which can help lower your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol levels. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) currently recommends that you should have at least 2 to 4 servings of fresh or frozen fruit daily. There are many ways to incorporate fruits into your cholesterol-lowering diet, including these healthy tips:
Consume as a healthy snack.
Fruit is an easy, low-fat snack that doesn’t take a lot of preparation. Additionally, it can satisfy your sweet tooth without adding saturated fat or trans-fats -- both of which can increase your cholesterol. Although fresh fruit is ideal, fruit can be frozen for future use without significantly affecting the nutrients contained with them.
While fruit is also available in dried and packaged varieties, you should also be extra cautious about reading the food labels on these products before consuming them. Fruits that have been dried or packaged in plastic or cans can also have additional sugar added to them.
Include in salads and soups.
When you think of soups and salads, you usually think of vegetables making up the bulk of these foods. However, any type of fruit can qualify as a main ingredient of many delicious soups and salads, adding a tasty flavor – as well as fiber – to your meal. If you are looking for ideas on how fruit can be a delicious part of your soup or salad, try some of these healthy ideas:
Include as a side dish.
Fruits can also be included as part of your main dish – whether it is used as a side item or added as garnish onto the main dish served. Fruit can be an excellent compliment to a poultry dish or as a flavorful addition to a salad. There are many creative ways to add fruit as a side item – ranging from a light compote added to your salmon or kebabs:
Have as a dessert.
Do you always need to have a little something sweet after your lunch or dinner? If so, opt for fruit instead of the traditional, fattening pudding or pastry. Fruits are very versatile and can be prepared in many ways – whether you are in the mood for a sorbet or as a topping for your favorite dessert. Just be sure not to add additional sugar, syrup or high fat ingredients (such as whipped cream) to your favorite treat. If you are looking for ideas, try these delicious desserts:
Make a delicious smoothie.
Grab a combination of your favorite fresh fruits and make a smoothie after your next workout or as a grab-and-go meal. Bananas, strawberries, or apples are just a few of the many examples of tasty fruit that can add nutrients and fiber to your cholesterol-lowering diet. If you want to add a little dairy (as well as a little thickness) to your smoothie, add a half-cup of low-fat plain yogurt. You can also try these delicious, low-fat smoothie recipes:
Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (PDF), July 2004, The National Institutes of Health: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Rolfes SR, Whitney E. Understanding Nutrition, 3rd ed 2005.