The trick to balancing cholesterol lies mostly in your diet, with stress and lack of exercise not far behind. Levels of high LDL, low density lipoprotein or “bad cholesterol”, is the result of a poor diet high in saturated and trans-fats, sugar and sodium. There is plenty that can be said about what not to eat when lowering your cholesterol, but what can you eat?

It is true that eliminating processed foods full of trans fats and reducing your consumption of sugary and salty foods will benefit your cholesterol health as well as your overall health. This being said, incorporating more whole foods into your diet full of fiber and healthy fats can increase your HDL, high density lipoprotein or good cholesterol, and balance cholesterol levels.

Fibrous foods like oats, beans and whole grains reduce the level of LDL. They are full of soluble fiber which is key in reducing the absorption of cholesterol into the blood steam. 1/2 cups of cooked oats provides 6 grams of soluble fiber. Adding a banana can help increase your fiber intake by 4 grams!

Replace any saturated or trans-fats in your diet with healthy fats like omega-3, monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These essential fatty acids lower your blood cholesterol and promote healthy blood vessels. They also provide the nutrients to lower bad cholesterol, LDL, levels and maintain a healthy level of good cholesterol, HDL. Adding walnuts and ground flax seeds to your oat bars enhances the nutritional value with a healthy serving of omega-3.

With no refined sugar, these oat bars may seem like they lack in taste but you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The simple sweetness of honey, dates and bananas blended with the sweet warm taste of cinnamon will provide the sugary taste without the refined sugar!

To help balance cholesterol levels and prevent suffering from high cholesterol, start with your diet. Throw out the sugary, fatty foods and start incorporating unprocessed, whole foods into your diet. This will benefit not only your cholesterol health, but your overall health as well!

Banana Coconut Oat Bars (pictured above)

Ingredients:

1 Cup Quick Cook Oats
1/2 Cup Steel Cut Oats
1/2 Cup Walnuts, chopped
1/4 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
1/2 Cup Dried Fruit (apricots, dates, cranberries)
1/4 Cup Ground Flax Seeds
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 egg (or vegan substitute)
1/2 Cup Almond Milk
2 Mashed Bananas
1/4 Cup Honey

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, add all dry ingredients and mix to incorporate.
3. In a separate bowl, blend together all wet ingredients until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and blend again until well incorporated.
4. Grease a 9 x 9 baking dish with coconut oil or line with parchment paper. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven, slice into bars and enjoy!

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