Updated: Nov 18, 2021
Cholesterol is a waxy substance your body uses to build cells, however, when there’s too much of it, it’s bad for your health. Your body naturally produces the cholesterol you need, but excess cholesterol can lead to poor health.
There are two kinds of cholesterol: HDL is the good kind, and LDL is the bad kind.
Too much of the bad type, or not enough of the good type, the bad cholesterol (the LDL) will accumulate around the interior walls of the arteries, which feed blood back to the heart and to the brain. This accumulation can narrow the arteries, reducing their flexibility. If the arteries are narrowed and a clot forms, a heart attack or stroke can occur.
There are a lot of foods out there that have been proven to reduce cholesterol levels. By adding these foods to your diet, you can reduce your cholesterol levels and keep your heart – and the rest of your body – healthy.
Here’s a look at 19 different options that are a great way to naturally bring your cholesterol levels down.
Try adding some oats to your diet. By eating two servings of oats a day, you can lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels by as much as 5.3 percent in as little as 6 weeks! Oats contain bega-glucan, a substance that absorbs LDL cholesterol. In addition to lowering cholesterol, oats are also packed with other valuable nutrients, including magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. Eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast or for an afternoon snack.
Beets are full of phytochemical, which combat free radical damage and help keep arteries flexible, thus preventing them from being backed up with cholesterol. Beets are rich in beneficial nutrients, such as fiber, iron
vitamin C, magnesium, folate and potassium. Boil beets and enjoy them as a snack or a dish alongside your favorite main dish, or use them as a topper on a salad, or blend them into a healthy smoothie.
3. Red Wine
Tempranillo grapes, which are used to make red wine, are high in fiber, which helps to dramatically lower bad cholesterol levels. One study found that drinking a glass of red wine made with Tempranillo grapes helped to lower cholesterol levels by 9 percent. Pour yourself a glass of red wine and do a cheer to lower cholesterol.
Almonds are an excellent source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are good for your overall health. They also offer a nice amount of fiber. They contain antioxidant flavonoids, compounds that help improve the health of the arteries and lower inflammation. Almonds can lower LDLs and can prevent any damage from occurring within the walls of the arteries and protect against cholesterol plaque buildup. Walnuts are also rich in fiber, magnesium, phosphorus and protein, as well as other vital nutrients. Eat a handful of nuts for a healthy snack, use them in place of croutons on a salad, or sprinkle some into your breakfast cereal.
These seeds may be tiny, but they pack a powerful punch for your health, in a good way. They are actually the richest source of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA.) They also contain high levels of lignana and both soluble and insoluble fiber, all components that can significantly lower cholesterol levels, as well as support detoxification and improve the health of the gut. The key to the cholesterol lowering property of flaxseeds likes in the soluble fiber; it traps cholesterol in the digestive tract so that it cannot be absorbed by the body.
These green, meaty fruits are one of the best sources of monounsaturated fat, the type of fat that is good for the health of your heart. This fat helps to raise the good cholesterol (HDL) while lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL.) Avoca
dos also offer a high amount of soluble fiber, phytochemicals, folate, niacin, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can simply cut an avocado in half, remove the pit and eat it right out of the skin, or you can slice it up and add it on top of a salad or sandwich. Another way to enjoy avocado is to mash it up and turn it into guacamole.
7. Black Tea
Black tea is perhaps best known for its antioxidants, which have been found to prevent and fight cancer; however, these antioxidants are also a great line of defense against high LDL cholesterol (the bad type.) Black tea has been found to lower blood lipids by an astonishing 10 percent in just 3 weeks! To gain the benefits of this cholesterol fighting beverage, simply steep a black tea bag in boiling water and enjoy!
8. Dark Chocolate
If you’re a chocolate lover, you are going to love it even more, especially if you are trying to lower your cholesterol levels. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that help to build HDL levels, the good cholesterol. The darker the chocolate and the more cocoa it contains, the better health benefits it offers. This healthy treat also offers fiber, manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and protein. Munch on a dark chocolate bar for a tasty, healthy snack, or add some shavings to your bowl of cereal.
9. Olive Oil
Derived from olives, this type of oil is backed with monounsaturated fatty acids, which help to reduce LDL cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol.) While all types of olive oil can help to lower cholesterol levels, the extra virgin variety has been found to provide the most profound effects. Replace any oil you use with extra virgin olive oil. You can use it to mix up homemade salad dressings, or use it in any recipe that calls for oil.
This golden yellow spice is often used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Not only does it offer a lovely flavor, but it also provides some pretty amazing health benefits. The secret to this spice’s cholesterol lowering abilities lies in its active ingredient, curcumin. It helps to lower bad cholesterol levels, prevents clots from forming, prevents damage from free radicals, and boosts the health of the immune system. It has also been found to offer protection against heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. Add turmeric into a cup of tea, mix it in with a smoothie, or sprinkle some into your eggs or cottage cheese to add a nice taste and lower your cholesterol levels.
Garlic is not only known for its wonderful flavor, but it’s also famous for its ability to improve heart health. Garlic contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which work to lower LDL cholesterol levels and boost HDL levels. It also helps to prevent the formation of blood clots, lower blood pressure and ward off infections. Garlic is also a great source of calcium, vitamin B1, copper, vitamin C, selenium and manganese. Sprinkle some on top of a pizza, use it in pasta sauce, flavor meats with it; there are so many ways you can add garlic to your diet.
12. Sweet Potatoes
These root vegetables are beloved for their sweet flavor and heartiness, but they don’t just taste great and fill you up; they also contain tons of fiber. The fiber in these veggies is what is responsible for lower cholesterol levels, as it helps to cleanse the arteries, thus preventing blockages. Sweet potatoes area also high in potassium and vitamin A. You can bake or roast sweet potatoes and enjoy them with a pad of non-fat butter (preferably with an olive oil base,) or slice and prepare them as fries. You can also blend sweet potatoes and use them to make pancakes, muffins, and a variety of other baked goods.
It’s no wonder why Popeye always ate his spinach: this leafy green veggie is high in lutein, a pigment that offers a ton of health benefits. In addition to lowering the risk of macular degeneration and increasing iron levels, spinach can also prevent cholesterol from building up on the walls of the arteries. Spinach is also a great source of iron, fiber, vitamin B1, B2 and B6, and magnesium, among other healthy nutrients. Add some spinach leafs into a salad, or cook them up with water and a touch of olive oil, sprinkle them with turmeric and you’ll have yourself a cholesterol-fighting snack or side dish.
Whether they’re black, white, yellow, green or split, peas are a powerful food that can significantly lower cholesterol levels. That’s because they are a great source of soluble fiber, which helps to absorb LDLs (the bad cholesterol) and boost HDLs (the good cholesterol.) Just ½ cup of cooked lima beans offers 3.5 grams of soluble fiber, which can lower LDLs by about 7 percent in just 12 weeks. There are so many ways you can add peas to your diet: serve them as a side dish; use them as a foundation of a main course (rice and beans;) use them as a base for a soup, toss them into a salad, or use them to make a chili.
These filling and tasty nuts are another great addition to your diet if you are trying to lower your cholesterol levels. They are a rich source of both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which help to improve the health of the blood vessels, and can significantly lower bad cholesterol and boost good cholesterol. Snack on a cup of walnuts for a snack, sprinkle them on top of a salad, or mix them in with a bowl of oatmeal for a powerful cholesterol lowering meal.
One of the very few complete plant-based proteins, soy can easily be swapped for animal sources of protein and dairy(which can increase bad cholesterol levels,) soy is a great way to lower your cholesterol levels. It’s high in fiber and low in saturated fats. It’s also free of cholesterol. By replacing foods that are high in saturated fats with soy, you can actually lower your cholesterol levels by as much as 10 percent1
These tasty fruits (yes, they’re a fruit,) are best known for their ability to fight cancer; however, they can also help to lower cholesterol levels. They are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that gives them their red color, which can help to lower LDL by as much as 10 percent. Munch on a tomato for a snack, add it to a salad, or use it as a sandwich topper.
It’s been said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and that can be especially true if you are trying to lower your cholesterol. Apples are a great source of soluble fiber, which helps to absorb bad cholesterol. Apples taste great on their own and make a healthy, cholesterol-fighting snack. They can also be added to salads and a variety of other dishes.
This sweet fruit is not only yummy, but it can also reduce cholesterol levels. Loaded with fiber, pears can significantly lower LDL levels, as they absorb bad cholesterol and boost good cholesterol. Munch on one for a snack, add one to a salad, or mix one into a smoothie.