Baking your own foods is one way to help keep your cholesterol levels in check, since you know exactly what you are placing into your foods. If you haven't already noticed, some of your favorite recipes call for fattening ingredients that could potentially cause your cholesterol levels to increase -- as well as your waistline. Just because you are following a cholesterol-lowering diet, it doesn't meant that you can't enjoy preparing -- and consuming -- your favorite baked dishes. Here are some healthy modifications you can make to your next baked dish that will help keep your cholesterol levels -- and your heart -- healthy.
Use Whole-Wheat Flour
Most recipes call for all-purpose flour, which is more refined. Whole-wheat flour is a little more coarser, but contains more fiber -- an ingredient that is known to lower your LDL cholesterol levels. There are many types of wheat flour, so if whole wheat flour gets boring, you can use other types of flour that is higher in fiber, such as spelt flour or graham flour.
Fruit is naturally sweet and is also a high-fiber food. Whether you are baking a cake or making a filling, adding fruit to it will make it more tasty, as well as add a little more fiber to your diet. Just make sure you are using fresh fruit -- not canned or dried. So whether your like baked apples, citrus fruits, or fresh berries, add your favorite fruits will make a sweet treat that will be less in refined sugars.
Consider Dark Chocolate -- in Moderation
Dark chocolate is higher in antioxidant content in comparison to milk chocolate, making it a more healthier option to satisfy your chocolate craving. Additionally, some studies have shown that dark chocolate is cholesterol-friendly. Dark chocolate can be used as a light drizzle in your favorite low-fat desserts or in other baked goods. To get the antioxidant benefit in dark chocolate, be sure to select dark chocolates that contain at least 70% cocoa or higher.
Limit Fattening Ingredients
Butter and milk are the most commonly used ingredients when baking, but they can also be the most fattening ingredients in your dish. There are ways that you can modify these two ingredients in your dishes so that you reduce the saturated fat content in the recipe -- without sacrificing taste.
To lower the addition of saturated fat in your recipe, you can substitute low fat or skim milk for whole milk. If at all possible, limit your use of shortening, as this can introduce trans-fat into your cooking.
In some cases, heart-healthy oils, such as olive oil or vegetable oil, can be used to substitute for butter or margarine. If this option is not compatible with your recipe, you can also use a butter or margarine containing phytosterols, which has also been linked to lowering LDL cholesterol. Unfortunately, these butters are usually soft, so in some cases, this may also not be an option in your cooking. In these cases, reducing the amount of butter or margarine included in the recipe may help to lower the fat content of the dish, and still maintain the consistency of the baked good your are preparing.
Reduce Portion Sizes
If you are making a cake or pie, slicing the whole pie or cake into smaller pieces can help give you a delicious serving of your favorite treat -- without you going overboard.