BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Recent studies indicate that many locals are struggling to keep their health in check.

According to a 2021 report from America’s Health Rankings, 37.6 percent of people in Louisiana are battling high cholesterol.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says one of the best ways to fight high cholesterol and become healthier is to choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium (salt), and added sugars.

But, does this mean a person has to nix tasty snacks from their daily diet and eat bland foods?

Not necessarily. Listed below are seven heart-healthy and low-cholesterol snack ideas.

1/ Whole-grain crackers with hummus

Whole grain crackers that don’t have a lot of added sodium or sugar are a great choice. They have plenty of fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Hummus also has a good bit of fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

The pairing makes for a snack that’s both filling and tasty.

2/ Roasted carrots and guacamole

According to Eating Well, “Roasting carrots not only brings out more flavor, but the olive oil used to roast them adds heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Roast a bunch at the beginning of the week for an easy grab-and-go snack.”

You can pair the carrots with either avocado or guacamole for added flavor.

3/ Nuts and Seeds Trail Mix

Taste of Home suggests keeping a large mason jar filled with nuts and seeds trail mix on your kitchen counter.

It goes on to say that this convenient and satisfying snack is healthy because, “The nuts and seeds are linked with lower cholesterol levels; the fruit and dark chocolate add heart-healthy antioxidants.”

4/ Fruit smoothie with almond milk

A cool and refreshing smoothie can be nutritious and satisfy a craving for something sweet.

There are many ways to make a healthy smoothie. One suggestion is to include bananas, which contain potassium, chia seeds and spinach, which are rich in fiber, as well as frozen berries and almond milk, as these can lower LDL cholesterol.

5/ A bowl of oatmeal

Though it’s often viewed as a breakfast food, a bowl of oatmeal can also make for a comforting snack.

Health experts say the “soluble fiber in oatmeal helps to ‘soak up’ cholesterol and move it through your body without being absorbed.”

6/ Greek yogurt with berries

Eating Well suggests this snack, saying, “a recent study says that eating yogurt may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. In general, it’s recommended that you stick to low-fat dairy products to limit saturated fat and it’s best to choose plain yogurt to limit added sugar. Greek yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt, which can make your snack more satisfying. Pair the yogurt with berries, such as blueberries, which have been linked to improved heart health.”

7/ Healthy fruit salad

A healthy fruit salad that blends berries with a few apple slices can not only treat your taste buds to a snack that’s sweet and tart, but provide your body with the antioxidants it needs to function properly.

Taste of Home points out that including berries in your fruit salad is a great idea as they lower LDL cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol.

CLICK HERE for more heart-healthy and low-cholesterol meal ideas from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.