There’s nothing like a hearty breakfast to start the day off right. Bacon, cookies, buttered oatmeal – oh my! When it comes to the first meal of the day, the tantalizing taste sensations are virtually endless. In contrast, many of our favorite breakfast foods can be loaded with cholesterol.
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When you’re having brunch or grabbing a quick bite before work, what should you reach for? registered dietitian, Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CCDS, LDshares some great breakfast choices and precautions to help keep your cholesterol levels under control.
Breakfast foods high in cholesterol
When it comes to cholesterol content, Patton says these foods can be breakfast’s worst offenders.
“The combination of eggs, cheese, and bacon/sausage can be a major source of cholesterol. And if they’re cooked in butter or served on a croissant, that adds even more cholesterol,” says Patton.
Your morning wake-up could be doing more harm than good if dressed up with all the extras. Patton says whole milk and whipped cream lattes are another source of cholesterol.
The alternatives aren’t much better
You’ve had your fill of that organic chicken sausage and you’re very proud of it too. Good effort, but you still have to be careful with cholesterol. “People often think that turkey bacon, turkey sausage, or chicken sausage are better options. However, they only have slightly less cholesterol than their pork or beef counterparts,” says Patton.
Low Cholesterol Breakfast Foods You Should Consider
You hear “breakfast” and your mind goes to the usual hits – pancakes, cereal, toast, eggs or maybe a smoothie. But you might want to start thinking globally rather than locally when it comes to changing up your morning rotation.
“Many cultures start their day with beans, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, extra virgin olive oil and pita bread. Although we might think of them as non-traditional breakfast items, they’re good because they’re cholesterol-free and will provide consistent energy throughout the morning,” says Patton.
You can add it to morning smoothies or enjoy yogurt parfaits for breakfast. But yogurt isn’t always an obvious choice for many.
“Yogurt is a common breakfast food, but some may not consider it. Depending on its fat content, there may be some cholesterol but not much,” Patton notes. If you opt for yogurt the morning, she suggests choosing one with no added sugar. Instead, add fruit to sweeten it with natural sugar, plus additional flavors and textures of oats, nuts, ground flax seeds and chia seeds.
Other Low Cholesterol Breakfast Foods to Keep on Hand
What are the low cholesterol breakfast staples we should always keep at home? Patton recommends the following:
- Natural nut butters (almond, cashew, peanut, etc.).
- Nuts and seeds.
- Shredded wheat.
- Whole grain or sprouted grain bread.
- Yogurt without added sugar.
Low Cholesterol Breakfast Recipes
Change doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some low cholesterol breakfast ideas to get you started.
Berry Chia Breakfast Pudding
This hearty option is good if you’re looking for an alternative to eggs or even smoothies. You can make it ahead and it’s a great source of protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and important minerals. Get the recipe here.
Since Patton mentioned keeping oats around the house, you might as well get creative with them. Overnight oats are a good solution when you need something quick and filling, but don’t want to cook. And the flavor combinations are endless. Here are seven overnight oatmeal recipes to try.
As we all know, avocado toast has become a brunch delight over the past few years. But no need to book to enjoy it. Prepare this tasty version of avocado toast at home in minutes. It has no cholesterol and is loaded with phytonutrients and healthy fats.
Vegetarian omelette “Muffins”
We know, we know. These breakfast egg sandwiches can get us in trouble. Here is a savory alternative in the form of a “muffin”. This combination of egg whites/egg substitute, low fat cheese and fresh vegetables is simple to prepare and low in calories and fat. You can enjoy these veggie omelette “muffins” for breakfast with a side of fresh berries or have them for lunch with a nice green salad.
How much cholesterol should you eat?
Cholesterol is naturally produced by your body, so we should try to avoid it in the foods we eat. Your body uses cholesterol to make bile, a fluid your liver makes to digest fats in your intestines. Your body also uses cholesterol to make vitamin D and hormones like testosterone and estrogen.
According to the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Daily Value (DV) for Cholesterol is less than 300 milligrams (mg) per day. When looking at nutrition labels, keep in mind that a cholesterol level of 5% or less would be considered low. If a food has 20% or more cholesterol per serving, it is considered high.
Sources of dietary cholesterol
In Patton’s words, it’s simple. “Dietary cholesterol only comes from animal sources. So if it comes from an animal, it contains cholesterol.
Here are some cholesterol culprits:
- Beef fat.
- Chicken fat.
- Egg yolks.
- Meat and poultry.
- Pork fat/lard.
- Processed meats and poultry products (bacon, hot dogs, jerky, some deli meats and sausages).
- Shellfish (lobster and shrimp).
- Spreads (butter, cream cheese and sour cream).
Why it is important to control your diet
“A diet high in animal fats, saturated fats and cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes and obesity. It’s important to assess how much animal fat you’re consuming and try to replace it with plant-based foods,” says Patton.