Cholesterol

Best Foods For Lowering Cholesterol

High cholesterol is an epidemic brought on by poor eating habits and stress. It can cause fatty deposits to accumulate on arteries and blood vessels which restricts the movement of blood, causing high blood pressure, and can lead to coronary heart disease which can be a precursor to heart attacks or strokes.

High density lipoprotein (HDL), is known as “good” cholesterol. This is a beneficial cholesterol to have in high levels, as it carries the fat through the blood and prevents it from depositing in the arteries. “Bad” cholesterol is known as LDL or low density lipoprotein. Total cholesterol levels should ideally be between 100-200 mg/dL for an adult.

High cholesterol is caused by a variety of factors, but weight, diet, activity, and stress levels also play a huge role. Thankfully these factors are within our control. Since diet is one of these factors within our control, here are 12 LDL cholesterol lowering foods for you to enjoy…

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1. Whole Eggs

Eggs are a controversial food in relation to high cholesterol. Some small studies have found that eating egg yolks can raise cholesterol levels. However, there have been a few very large studies that have shown that eating egg yolks can lower high cholesterol by raising your good cholesterol. This seems to only be applicable when you have a good diet to begin with.

Many people forget that raising HDL cholesterol can lower your risk of heart disease and balance your cholesterol levels. Eating a whole egg each day can do wonders for your blood work.

2. Walnuts

It may seem counterintuitive, but eating more fats can actually lower your cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fats help lower LDL cholesterol. They are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower the level of triglycerides in your body. This lowers the fat in your bloodstream and can prevent plaque buildup in your arteries.

Studies have shown that eating just a handful of walnuts every day can lower your LDL cholesterol levels by 10-percent.

3. Lentils

Lentils make a wonderful addition to any diet. They are high in folate, which acts by protecting your artery walls from damage. Lentils are also high in magnesium . Magnesium causes your blood vessels to relax, staving off heart disease and heart attacks. Enjoy lentils on top of salads or cooked into soups. Lentils are a protein source, especially for vegetarians. Buying lentils in bulk make this a heart healthy and wallet friendly purchase.

4. Beans

The whole legume family is a cholesterol friendly treat. Beans are packed full of soluble fiber, which has been shown to be correlated with lowered cholesterol levels. Studies are ongoing on the other health benefits of beans. The proteins are also thought to contribute to lowered LDL cholesterol.

Eating 1.5-cups of beans four times a week can reduce your LDL cholesterol levels by 5- to 15-percent and cut your risk of heart disease too. Enjoy your beans in chili, in hummus, or as a delicious side dish.

5. Trout

This fatty fish has great nutrition and health benefits. Trout is very high in omega-3 fatty acids, which act by lowering your levels of triglycerides. This can lower your cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, and sardines. Make eating fish part of your weekly menu to enjoy the health benefits of lowering your cholesterol. Trout is an excellent main course dish, but it’s also great topping a fresh salad.

6. Garlic

Garlic is a delicious flavoring and a very widely used supplement. Some studies have found that consuming garlic can lower LDL cholesterol, while keeping your HDL cholesterol at good levels. The studies found that the higher the amount of garlic you ate, the more health benefits you could gain from it.

While some studies have found a relationship with garlic and the lowering of cholesterol, other have found no correlation. Garlic is a delicious addition to healthy food, so you can still lower your cholesterol by making healthy foods more tasty by using this flavoring.

7. Apples

There is a saying that an apple a day can keep the doctor away, and this is true for your cholesterol. A recent study found that eating just one apple a day for a month lowered LDL cholesterol by 40-percent. Apples contain a ton of soluble fiber, which can clear the body from excess fats. This healthy fruit is also high in the antioxidant polyphenols. The study looked at supplementing the polyphenols that you would consume in an apple a day, and the results showed a marked decrease in cholesterol. Apples had the highest decrease, but it showed that polyphenols could successfully be supplemented.

8. Psyllium

Psyllium fiber is a well known additive used to enrich foods. It is popular as a mild laxative. The soluble fibers help to gel and rid your body of unhealthy material. Recently, psyllium has been used to lower cholesterol. It acts through two ways- one by reducing the absorption of cholesterol, and two by removing cholesterol through your bile. A good amount of psyllium fiber to eat a day is 7-12 grams. Build up your tolerance by supplementing small amounts and increasing over time. Too much at once can cause intestinal distress.

9. Asparagus

This delicious fresh vegetable is a popular side dish because it pairs well with any protein. Asparagus is not only a favorite food, it can also work to lower your cholesterol. It is packed with insoluble fiber, giving it its stringy texture. Steaming asparagus can soften these fibers. When you then digest the asparagus, the fiber binds to cholesterol, reducing the quantity in your bloodstream. Enjoy asparagus for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

10. Strawberries

Strawberries are an amazing superfood. This world favorite fruit is an amazingly healthy treat and it could help you lower your cholesterol. Berries are low on the glycemic index, meaning they are gentle on the hormone that regulates glucose in the blood.

To maximize their benefits, enjoy strawberries fresh. Fresh fruit contains more fiber which can further help cholesterol levels.

11. Avocado

This favorite health food is great for your heart and cholesterol health. Avocado is packed with oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat. Oleic acid is known as omega-9 fatty acid. Avocado is one of the highest natural sources of oleic acid, with macadamia nuts coming up as a close second. Studies have found that oleic acid can reduce LDL cholesterol by inhibiting the process of fat to cholesterol conversion. Enjoy avocado in moderation because its high fat content makes it a high calorie food.

12. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a breakfast staple, warming the stomachs of many on a cold morning. Not only can it provide ample energy for a busy day, oatmeal is a great fighter of LDL cholesterol. The soluble fiber of whole grains act by attaching to the cholesterol in your intestines and flushing it out of your body before it is absorbed. One study found that eating oatmeal along with other cholesterol lowering foods had the same effect on cholesterol levels that prescription medication does.

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Catherine Roberts

Catherine is our go-to writer for women’s health news, diet trends and more. She’s dedicated to providing Activebeat readers with the information they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle every day.

Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Julie Ching is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Los Angeles. She decided to become a Dietitian after traveling through Europe, South America, and Asia and discovered a passion for food. She now works with people of all ages and varying disease states to improve their health. She is passionate about teaching people about nutrition so they can live their best life while still considering their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

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