Top 12 Healthy Foods that Lower Cholesterol

When it comes to fighting heart disease, high cholesterol may be the villain. Heart disease remains the number one killer of women, so reducing cholesterol levels can go a long way in reducing your risk of heart attack or stroke. Unfortunately, we don’t always know how to lower cholesterol levels safely and effectively. That’s why we’ve created this list of top 10 healthy foods that lower cholesterol—and kept them easy to find in your local grocery store!

1) Fruits

There are three categories of fruits and all types are recommended:

(1) citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and tangerines;

(2) berries like blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries; and

(3) apples, grapes, pears, and other soft-textured fruits. Two or more servings per day are recommended.

2) Vegetables

Beans, eggplant, and okra are excellent sources of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is essential for lowering cholesterol levels. These vegetables are also high in folate and vitamin C, which promotes heart health. Tomatoes help to reduce LDL or bad cholesterol levels by increasing HDL or good cholesterol levels. Tomatoes have been shown to slow down the absorption of fat while leaving you feeling full longer. They can be cooked with olive oil and garlic, which enhances their benefits.

3) Meats

If you’re trying to lower your cholesterol naturally, skip red meat. Instead, focus on fatty fish like salmon and tuna, as well as nuts and beans. Nuts contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats and protein, while beans are great sources of both soluble fibers (which reduces LDL cholesterol) and insoluble fiber (which helps fill you up). Just make sure to avoid canola oil when preparing them at home.

4) Dairy

While high levels of saturated fat are linked to high cholesterol, dairy can actually have a cholesterol-lowering effect. The key is moderation. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who drank more than three servings of whole milk per day had higher LDL (bad) cholesterol levels than those who drank less. Stick with 1–2 servings of low-fat dairy each day, and don’t overdo it on cheese and other full-fat products.

5) Fish and Seafood

Lower cholesterol

Research shows that eating fatty fish like salmon or trout twice a week can help lower cholesterol levels. Aim for one to two servings per week, with one serving being 6 ounces of cooked fish. It’s also important to stay away from non-fish sources of animal fats, as well as trans fat sources such as margarine and shortening.

6) Eggs

Eggs are rich in biotin, a B vitamin. If you’re concerned about lowering your cholesterol levels, try incorporating one whole egg into your diet each day. Egg yolks can increase HDL, or good cholesterol levels while decreasing LDL or bad cholesterol. Be sure to include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet on a regular basis as well; researchers at Purdue University have found that adding omega-3s to eggs helps control blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity and blood triglyceride levels.

7) Beans & Legumes

Beans and legumes, such as lentils, peas, and soybeans, are high in protein and fiber but low in fat. Eating a diet rich in these foods may help lower cholesterol levels. Some research has also suggested that certain compounds found in beans (specifical beta-sitosterol) might prevent cholesterol from being absorbed by our bodies. The American Heart Association recommends eating 1 to 3 servings of legumes per week to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

8) Nuts & Seeds

Nuts, legumes, and seeds are some of nature’s most perfect foods. They are full of protein, healthy fats and fiber. Nuts contain monounsaturated fat which helps lower cholesterol by reducing LDL levels while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Legumes, such as beans and lentils also contain a lot of fiber which helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduces cholesterol.

9) Whole Grains

Whole grains, especially brown rice and oats, have shown promise in lowering cholesterol. Whole grains are rich in fiber, which can help keep your cholesterol in check. In a study of more than 17,000 people conducted by Harvard researchers, people who ate at least 3 servings of whole grains per day had lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels than those who didn’t.

10) Natural Sweeteners

Agave, a plant-based sweetener, has a lower glycemic index than sugar. Stevia is derived from a South American herb and can be used in cooking and baking. In some studies, it was shown to be as sweet as sucrose but with fewer calories. Sugar alcohols are also zero-calorie sweeteners.

Sorbitol is found naturally in fruits like pears; mannitol and xylitol are found naturally in vegetables like mushrooms; xylitol can also be made synthetically for use in foods or medications. Because they are not absorbed by our bodies, they don’t contribute to tooth decay or raise blood glucose levels so they’re considered safe for diabetics.

11) Dark Chocolate

Foods that lower cholesterol

Dark chocolate is loaded with flavonoids, powerful antioxidants which have been shown to reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol in people. Additionally, recent studies suggest eating dark chocolate can help regulate insulin levels. That’s good news for diabetics, but it’s also a boon for anyone who wants to decrease their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or heart disease later on down the road.

12) Eggplant and okra

Both of these plant-based foods contain fiber which can help control cholesterol in your body. Eating eggplant and okra regularly has been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol. If you like eggplant, try dipping it in turmeric and salt for a great snack idea. For okra, adding tomatoes is a healthy way to cook them up and consume even more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from other plants!

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