Lots of goodies await in my cholesterol reduction pantry! I keep these healthy troops ready to go, so that after work, when I’m hungry and tired, I don’t have to think. I can just grab one of the recipes that I already picked out on the weekend, and know that I can make something in 15 minutes using stuff I have at home. Quick and super-yumtastic!
In my last post I discussed the two different kinds of shopping lists to keep in mind to reduce your cholesterol levels to healthy levels. The perishable shopping list is the first kind, and you can find it here.
The Non-Perishable List
When you start to change the way you eat and cook in order to lower your cholesterol, it’s easier to have the standard set of non-perishable items that will inevitably pop up in cholesterol-friendly recipes. This means you can whip out a recipe and make something without having to go to the shop for an ingredient. The items below are non-perishable, meaning you can stock up your pantry well in advance of needing them. In general, you can probably shop for much of these things maybe once a month, although I go through so many walnuts, almonds, black beans, etc., that I tend to replenish them every couple of weeks.
Things to buy for your pantry to have on hand for cholesterol friendly recipes:
You’ll want to be eating roughly ½ cup minimum of beans a day to help flush cholesterol out of your body. I keep my pantry stocked with them, and then pull out a can or two to make soup, create dips that can eat with veggies, spread onto oat crackers, etc. Yum! Organic beans are best.
- Black Beans
- Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
- Navy / Butter / Pinto etc.
Grains are eaten sparingly when you’re trying to lower your cholesterol. Most grains tend to wreak havoc with your blood sugar, which contributes to cholesterol increases. The ones below can be eaten in moderation.
- Oats (daily)
- Pearl Barley
- Oat Crackers (made with whole oats, or oatmeal only – makes sure there is no flour in them.)
Go here, if you are looking for the explanation of why specific fats help with cholesterol reduction.
The first 3 can be used for frying or salad dressings.
- Avocado Oil
- Coconut Oil (1 Tbsp / day)
- Macadamia nut oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (salads only – no frying with this).
- Walnuts (buy them in bulk – you’ll be a eating a ton of these)
- Almonds (buy them in bulk – you’ll be a eating a ton of these)
- Pumpkins Seeds (buy them in bulk – you’ll be a eating a ton of these)
- Brazil Nuts (1-2 a day for selenium is a good idea. I do this when I remember.)
Spices to specifically lower cholesterol
Both spices below have been studied and found to reduce cholesterol. Cinnamon reduces blood sugar as well as cholesterol levels. It slows the release of insulin into your bloodstream.
- Cinnamon (1 g/day or roughly 1/2 Tbsp) – I add mine to my oatmeal, (along with a Tbsp of coconut oil – cinnamon is fat soluble). Buy it in bulk ground, or do like me, and buy the cinnamon bark, and then grind it up in your coffee grinder. This is cheaper and tastes amazing – much more pungent this way.)
- Turmeric (data is mixed on this one – it’s suggested that 1-2 g/day is useful) – Personally, I try to use turmeric in my cooking a few times a week. A component of Turmeric called Curcumin is an LDL reducer. Studies have shown good LDL reduction results after giving turmeric to animals, however studies of the active ingredient only (isolated curcumin) have not been shown to reduce LDL levels. I am sticking with the turmeric for now in whole food form, as it seems to have some strong evidence that it is helpful and healing for our arteries. I will give the supplement curcumin a miss for the time being.
A word about sweetening things: sugar is directly linked to raising your bad cholesterol. You need to avoid sugar when you are trying to reduce your cholesterol. (And as a side note -watch this CBS video on how sugar is also the key factor in creating belly or visceral fat which then in turn also increases the bad cholesterol in your body.)
When on a cholesterol lowering program, you won’t add table sugar to anything, or eat anything with sugar added to it, however you will still be able to get that sweet taste you like! There are other natural sweeteners that don’t have as strong a fat producing response in the body. This does however mean that you need to check the food labels of anything you are considering eating. There is hidden sugar in EVERYTHING. Luckily there are loads of foods you can eat, as well as healthy products on the market today (sweets, candies, etc.) that are made with non-sugar sweeteners. This is smart to have around if you have a gigantic sweet tooth and get the urge to have a snack that feels like candy, but doesn’t have the bad effects. Some of my favorites are chocolate-date-walnut brownies, pineapple or mango smoothies with kale/spinach/protein powder to slow the sugar absorption, as well as chocolates or candies sweetened with stevia or agave syrup.
Sweeteners that don’t increase body fat as much as table sugar:
- Stevia (use this in my tea and anytime I need to add granulated “sugar” to a recipe).
- Agave Syrup (I put *a little bit* of this on my oatmeal each AM)
- Dates (these are awesome when used in dessert recipes with chocolate – mmmmm!)
Condiments and Cooking Sauces
You’ll want these on hand to flavor things, make salad dressings, season stir frys, etc.
- Tamari soy sauce (I use this in everything for added flavor)
- Braggs Liquid Aminos (makes everything taste awesome and salty, without any salt added)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Brown Rice Vinegar
- Gomasio (ground up sesame seeds) – this adds great flavour, as well as a good chunk of your daily calcium, iron, manganese, and copper and B-vitamins
- Small jars of Anchovy Fillets – I keep these on hand – they make excellent sauces for green veg and stir fries, if you chop them up finely. Kale with chopped anchovies, garlic and chili butter is a fav of mine.
- Dry Herbs & Spices: all and every that you like! My favorites tend to be dry garlic, chili flakes, sesame seeds, oregano, rosemary, thyme, + cinnamon and turmeric of course
- Fresh Herbs: see above: as much as you want: I use a lot of fresh thyme, oregano and basil.
- Citrus Zest: Lemon, orange and lime zest add flavor to many dishes
- Garlic and Ginger: Most of my cooking includes these masterful flavours.
- Water (daily)
- Green Tea (daily)
- Red Wine (daily, one small glass)
- Dandelion Tea
- Tomato Juice (no sugar added, organic kind – small amounts are good!)
The following all contribute to your overall health, but not specifically to cholesterol reduction per se. I use most of these every week, but this is more about fine tuning. If this list already seems overwhelming, then I’d leave these things until after you have your standard cholesterol regime underway.
- Acai Powder (I use this in berry smoothies)
- Chia Seeds (I add this to my smoothie daily: 1 Tbsp / day mixed in smoothie for protein and energy)
- Dark Chocolate (70% +), raw is best
- Spirulina (1 tsp in smoothie every day)
- Fermented Foods (Kimchi, kefir, sauterkraut, fermented fish)
- Maca Powder
- Phytoplankton / Blue-Green Algae
- Bee Pollen
- Seaweeds like Wakame, Arame, Nori
Have fun filling your pantry!
Let’s face it – this is a new adventure! Some of the items above, you’ve never heard of, let alone eaten! You’re going to need to set aside an hour or so to organize yourself and think about where you can purchase these things.
- Print off this post, or use this handy shopping checklist (link coming soon).
- Identify where you’ll get your proteins, your veg, and your fruit. For example, I get my meat and salmon delivered by an organic delivery company as well as well as buying some of it at my local supermarket. I get my veg at my local farmer’s market on Saturdays. I get my fruit from the same place as my meat, as well as from my supermarket. The nonperishable pantry items, I mostly purchase online as it’s easier than tracking them down at a store.
- Suck it up! Just kidding – but change is hard. I know, trust me! Don’t expect this will be a walk in the park, but also, it’s not that hard – there are just some growing pains at the beginning. Getting healthy at any time in your life takes some change, some commitment to going through the awkwardness, newness, and discomfort that inevitably comes with changing… anything! Stick with it and I promise you, pretty soon this will all seem so normal to you!
Where do I buy these cholesterol lowering ingredients?
In general, when I’m trying to find my pantry items, I do a lookup for the item plus my location. So I’ll look up “brown rice vinegar” organic + London for example. I shop from a few different places online in the UK including the ones below. I’ve added a few others from the US and Canada that I have heard of to get you started, but your local health food store is a good first port of call:
UK and EU:
So there you have it – a pantry shopping list that gives you the cholesterol toolkit you’re going to need to cook healthy, creative, and tasty meals to lower your cholesterol naturally! Bon Appetit!