We hear a lot about lowering cholesterol levels, but it's not always clear what exactly it is or how to begin lowering it. Cholesterol is actually a type of fat-like substance that your body naturally produces that exists in your blood. Although it does come from your body, you can get it from food as well, according to Eat This, Not That!
The type of cholesterol that people often refer to is LDL cholesterol, which is known as the "bad" kind. It is known this way because if too much of it builds up around the arteries, it can block blood flow.
So how do you keep your cholesterol levels at bay? Well, one way is through your diet. Although there is no one food that singlehandedly lowers or raises your levels, keeping an overall healthy diet can help.
And according to Laura Burak, MS, RD, author of Slimdown with Smoothies, founder of Laura Burak Nutrition, and a member of our medical expert board, one of the worst foods you can eat for breakfast that may contribute to an increase in cholesterol is anything high in added sugar like donuts, muffins, or pancakes.
"Most people think animal foods like eggs or dairy will raise your cholesterol levels, but the main culprit when it comes to your diet has to do with the amount of added sugar and processed foods in your diet," says Burak.
"A diet high in added sugar is going to set off a cascade of processes in the body that can lead to weight gain and increased cholesterol and triglycerides."
When you consume "empty calories" in the form of added sugar, which essentially means that there are no nutrients like fiber or protein, your cholesterol levels may raise. Too much added sugar may also negatively impact your liver health, which directly impacts your cholesterol levels as well.
Thankfully, there are plenty of breakfast foods that can help you live a healthy lifestyle. For example, oatmeal is a whole grain that is packed full of fiber, which is known to help lower your cholesterol levels.
Ultimately, it's important "to focus on whole, unprocessed foods like avocado on grainy bread and eggs for breakfast and look at the big picture when it comes to your diet and lifestyle, instead of singling out certain foods to lower cholesterol," says Burak.