Cholesterol Reducing Foods:

Eat More For Better Heart Health

Reduce Cholesterol By Eating More

You really can lower your cholesterol by eating more cholesterol reducing foods. Usually we approach the subject of diet and cholesterol by avoiding certain foods. And that is the best place to start.

But it isn’t enough.

There are a number of foods that lower cholesterol. So eat up! Eat more and be healthier. 

Before we get into more detail about cholesterol reducing foods it is important to make this reminder.

Eating more foods that lower cholesterol can not replace responsibly cutting down on certain foods that raise total cholesterol levels.

Of course you know I am talking about fats. But not all fats. Some fats can actually help lower cholesterol and triglycerides. But saturated fats and trans-fats can not. 

Saturated fats have a good side and a bad side. They raise total blood cholesterol by raising LDL and HDL. Raising HDL is good. But raising LDL is very bad. High levels of LDL (especially oxidized LDL) promote heart disease. 

So limit your intake of saturated fats.

Trans-fats, on the other hand, do not have two sides. They are all bad. They raise LDL and lower HDL. Fortunately we are becoming aware of the dangers of trans-fats. Stay away from them. 

Enough about what to avoid. Let’s get to the good stuff. Let’s look at the…

Cholesterol Reducing Foods

It is encouraging to know that there are foods that lower cholesterol. And a shift in diet may be all it takes for you to avoid cholesterol lowering drugs. So let’s start with what you probably already know.

Fruits and Vegetables

Your mother always told you to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Perhaps you preached the same sermon to your kids. You know they are good for you. But you may not know that fruits and vegetables are cholesterol reducing foods. 

Fruits and vegetables are full of phytonutrients that can support many areas of health. But it is the fiber in these tasty treats that helps lower cholesterol… particularly LDL. 

Fruits and vegetables contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Neither type is digested by our bodies. But soluble fiber reduces the absorption of cholesterol by binding bile where cholesterol levels are high. 

It is estimated that eating 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber per day can decrease LDL cholesterol by 5%. 

Below is a partial list of fruits and vegetables containing soluble fiber.

Vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Carrots

Fruits

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Citrus
  • Blackberries
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Plums
  • Prunes

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Other Sources of Soluble Fiber

Perhaps you have seen the oatmeal commercials over the years claiming that eating a bowl every morning can lower cholesterol. Oatmeal, oat bran, and particularly barley are cholesterol reducing foods. Again… because of the soluble fiber. If you like oatmeal then eat plenty of it. Otherwise serve up some oat bran or barley cereal. 

Beans and legumes also contain a substantial amount of soluble fiber. As little as 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of certain beans like…

  • Lima beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Navy beans
  • Northern beans
  • Pinto beans

… can help reduce cholesterol.

Go Nuts

That is, eat nuts. 

Many people are afraid to eat nuts because they are high in fat. But remember, some fats are good for you such as those contained in nuts. Don’t get carried away. The fats in nuts can still promote weight gain. But adding nuts to your diet can help reduce your cholesterol. In fact it is estimated that…

A diet in which 20% of the calories come from walnuts (or almonds) may reduce LDL cholesterol by 12%.

Walnuts and almonds are particularly effective as cholesterol reducing foods. Try replacing high fat meats and cheeses with a handful of walnuts. Or sprinkle some almonds on your salad.

Plant Sterols

Plant sterols (or phytosterols) are also considered cholesterol reducing foods. They act as structural components in plants. They are basically the plant equivalent of cholesterol. However, in the human system they actually prevent the absorption of cholesterol. 

Plant sterols are sometimes added to other products such as orange juice and margarines and sold as cholesterol lowering foods. Some cholesterol lowering dietary supplements include sterols among their list natural substances. Taking a daily supplement containing plant sterols can be an effective way to lower cholesterol.

Vegetable oils

Some vegetable oils such as…

  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Peanut oil

… may be helpful in reducing cholesterol. This is especially true when substituted for other oils containing saturated fats.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Diets high in Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of atherosclerosis development and, therefore, coronary heart disease. This is especially true when substituted for foods high in saturated fat.

The American Heart Association recommends 2-4 grams of Omega-3 for anyone with elevated triglycerides and at least 1 gram per day for anyone with coronary heart disease.

Omega-3 supplementation has been shown to…

  • Reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce risk from clots
  • Reduce risk of sudden death

The richest source of plant based Omega-3 (ALA) is flaxseed oil. 

Rich sources of marine based Omega-3 (EPA and DHA) include…

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Herring
  • Lake trout
  • Sardines

Don’t Avoid… Indulge

Reducing cholesterol is not only about avoiding certain foods. Eating cholesterol reducing foods instead of foods high in saturated fats is a great way to lower cholesterol. So eat! Eat to a healthier heart with cholesterol reducing foods. 


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