Nuts: The Best Cholesterol-Friendly Snacks

If you think that trying to lower your cholesterol means having to swear off snacking, think again!

In fact, snacking throughout the day can help you feel full for longer and eat smaller meals. The key is knowing which snacks can help you stay healthy, and then stocking your kitchen with them. This way, when hunger pangs hit you’ll be set up with cholesterol-friendly snack choices. Today I want to tell you about my personal favorites — nuts and seeds.

Nuts and seeds both contain phytosterols, which have been shown to reduce “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. You can read about some of the nuts and seeds which contain the most phytosterols here. For more great nuts and seeds to snack on for lower cholesterol, check this out.

Of course, pretty much any nuts/seeds are going to be a healthier snack than your favorite candy bar, but today I’m telling you about 2 types of nuts and 2 types of seeds that have become my personal go-to snacks for lowering cholesterol.


Pistachios

Pistachios are one of the top phytosterol-containing nuts, and fortunately also one of the tastiest. They also have the added bonus of making you pace yourself since you have to shell them before eating them. Go to your local grocery/convenience store and pick yourself up a bag of these (admittedly somewhat pricey) nuts.

Almonds

Almonds also contain phytosterols, along with fiber, which helps lower cholesterol too. They are the easiest snack on this list to eat straight from the package, since you don’t have to shell them or crush them or anything. You can also replace some of your milk consumption with cholesterol-free almond milk consumption to even make it easier to lower cholesterol in your daily life.

Sunflower Seeds

Cracked Pepper Sunflower SeedsSunflower seeds are probably my personal favorite, and not just because I played a lot of baseball growing up. Like pistachios, sunflower seeds make you pace yourself (as long as you’re a traditionalist and buy them still in their hulls) so you can’t just eat a handful in 5 seconds. Again, you’re going to want to buy these in a cracked pepper flavor if you can.

Sunflower seeds are packed with protein, fiber and phytosterols. Combined with the fact that they’re so small and take some work to get to, this means that it’ll be hard to eat an unhealthy amount of these. Buy yourself a big bag, eat them for a few hours straight and still find yourself with some left over for the next day. And did I mention they’re cheap? I got the bag above for less than 2 bucks right down at 7/11.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds may be the food with the world’s highest amount of phytosterols. The only problem is they’re a little trickier to eat, if you don’t want to start just tossing back handfuls of them down your throat. Luckily, there are a bunch of different ways to incorporate sesame seeds into your diet.

You can incorporate them into a lot of different meals (like oatmeal, rice and sandwiches, to name a few) by just throwing some sesame seeds in to your recipe. If you want snacking ideas though, sprinkle them on bagels or toast, crush them up and spread them on crackers, blend them into smoothies or just eat them straight, if you’re hardcore.


These nuts and seeds aren’t just great for lowering your cholesterol, but their small size adds a built-in advantage: you don’t eat as much overall. After all, it’s much harder to eat a full bag of sunflower seeds than it is to eat a full bag of chips. Snacking on these (and other) nuts and seeds are a great way to lower your cholesterol without sacrificing anything.

Another great benefit of nuts and seeds is that there are so many different types of them, so you won’t get bored. They all contain cholesterol-lowering phytosterols, so feel free to experiment until you find your favorite. Just remember that brazil nuts and walnuts have the lowest phytosterol counts, so hopefully you can mix in some other nuts if those happen to be your favorites.

If your corner store doesn’t have a great selection of nuts, then order in bulk online and snack healthier for weeks at a time:

Thanks for reading, and make sure to let me know if you think any other nuts or seeds belong on this list!

Updated: December 8, 2015 — 2:12 am

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