7 Foods That Help Lower Cholesterol
- Dietary Ways to Lower CholesterolThe wrong foods can make your cholesterol level rise. However, the right ones may help bring it back down to a healthy level. In fact, your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. But, certain foods—mainly those high in saturated fat—can add to cholesterol levels in your blood. Excess cholesterol can build up as a waxy substance on the walls of your blood vessels. This reduces or blocks blood flow, which leads to a whole host of problems. If your cholesterol is high, try these cholesterol-busting foods as part of your overall plan to manage it.
- OatsThis whole-grain food is rich in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol. It attaches itself to molecules of cholesterol and flushes them from the body. Oatmeal, such as rolled or steel-cut oats, is a good source of soluble fiber. So are oat- and oat-bran-based cereals. Aim for 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber every day from a variety of sources.
- BeansBeans are low in fat and rich in fiber, including soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol levels. Beans are also very filling so they'll keep you feeling satisfied long after your meal. This can help prevent unwanted snacking on high-fat treats. So, whether you want to drop a few pounds or keep you weight where it is, put beans on the menu. With so many varieties to choose from, there's no limit to the dishes you can create.
- Vegetables and FruitsFruits and vegetables are rich in fiber and a wide variety of nutrients. That makes them an essential part of a cholesterol-lowering diet (and any diet for better health). Brussels sprouts, okra, and eggplant are just a few of the vegetables that deliver the soluble fiber to help lower cholesterol. Artichokes, green peas, broccoli, and turnip greens are other good high-fiber choices. Citrus fruits like oranges, strawberries, grapes and apples eaten with the skin contain a helpful type of soluble fiber called pectin. Other fruits high in fiber include raspberries, pears eaten with the skin, and bananas.
- Avocados and Vegetable OilsResearch shows that eating one avocado a day along with other heart-healthy foods can lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. LDL is often called the bad cholesterol. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). They lower cholesterol and supply you with vitamin E. Add slices of avocado to your favorite sandwich or salad. Olive, canola, sesame, peanut, safflower and sunflower oils are also good sources of MUFAs. These oils can help lower cholesterol when they replace unhealthier fats, such as lard and butter.
- NutsMost nuts have a combination of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids to help lower your LDL cholesterol levels. Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans and other types of nuts make healthy snack choices. Watch portions, though, because they pack a lot of calories. To battle high cholesterol without weight gain, limit portions to just a handful of nuts or 1 to 1.5 ounces a day. Choose nuts in their natural form, with no sugar or salt added.
- Fatty FishEating protein sources that have less saturated fat than red meat can help in your overall plan to reduce cholesterol. Salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, herring and other types of fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a healthy fat that may help lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, another fat in your blood. Omega-3s help reduce the risk of blood clots. They also help your heart by preventing irregular heart rhythms and lowering blood pressure. By choosing fish over red meat, you're also dodging meat's cholesterol-raising saturated fat.
- SoyTofu, soybeans, soy milk, and other soy-based foods play a supporting role in reducing cholesterol levels. Eating soy-based foods in place of meat and full-fat dairy also helps reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet. Soy is also a good source of fiber, some protein, and other nutrients that are good for your health.
7 Foods That Help Lower Cholesterol