What to Eat if...You Have High Cholesterol

Strawberries, avocados and other tasty foods that help keep your numbers in check.

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Your diet can be a powerful ingredient when it comes to managing your cholesterol keeping “bad” LDL cholesterol levels low and “good” HDL cholesterol levels high. The key lies in a combination of eliminating high-fat, artery-clogging foods (foods high in saturated fats and trans fats like cookies, crackers and ice cream) and loading up on heart-healthy ones. Replacing cholesterol bombs with fiber-rich and nutrient-dense foods will not only lower cholesterol levels (and likely the number on the scale), it’ll boost your overall health and energy. Let’s head to the kitchen to find tasty ways to keep your cholesterol in check!

Try these cholesterol-friendly diets.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

100 Percent Whole Grains

2 / 7 100 Percent Whole Grains

You’d be surprised what a daily bowl of oatmeal can do for your cholesterol (and your digestion). Soluble fiber reduces your body’s absorption of cholesterol and can decrease your LDL levels. Load your plate with 100 percent whole grains and reap the cholesterol-reducing benefits. Whole grains like oatmeal, oat bran and barley each contain about one gram of soluble fiber per half-cup serving. Aim for about 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day—add a banana to your steel-cut oats and you’ll be on your way to reaching your goals!

Nutrient-Rich Vegetables

3 / 7 Nutrient-Rich Vegetables

Cholesterol aside, veggies are a necessity in any healthy diet. Vegetables, low in calories and rich in soluble fiber, are beneficial to heart health, help you maintain a healthy weight and may improve cholesterol levels. But some veggies pack a bigger nutritional punch than others. Soluble fiber superstars include carrots and Brussel sprouts: Per one-cup serving, carrots contain 2 grams of soluble fiber and the same serving of Brussel sprouts boasts 6 grams.

Tip: Need another reason to sip some tea? Green, black, and oolong teas are loaded with antioxidants, which can increase HDL (good) cholesterol and boost artery function.

Deeply-Colored Fruits

4 / 7 Deeply-Colored Fruits

Fruits should be a staple in anyone’s diet—between one and two cups per day. Incorporating fruits into your diet is especially important for managing cholesterol. Certain fruits, like apples, grapes, citrus fruits and strawberries are loaded with cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber.

Tip: Fruits are typically low in fat, with one exception—avocado. Avocados contain monounsaturated fatty acids—good fats that can improve LDL cholesterol levels in overweight and obese people. Cube some in your salad or spread on cucumber slices. Just don’t overdo it—the recommended serving is 1/5 of the fruit.


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Excess body weight tends to increase cholesterol levels. One way to shed some pounds and lower cholesterol is by eating more fiber-rich beans—pinto, garbanzo and kidney, to name a few. Each half-cup serving provides between 5 and 8 grams of total fiber. And because your body digests beans more slowly, you’ll feel fuller longer.

Tip: Transform beans into the perfect snack! Blend garbanzo beans to make a fresh dish of hummus and enjoy with whole grain crackers or a serving of carrots. Canned beans are typically loaded with added sodium, so be sure to give them a rinse before digging in. 

Unsalted Nuts

6 / 7 Unsalted Nuts

Mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids found in walnuts, almonds and other tree nuts, work to keep blood vessels healthy. Don’t be put off by the high-caloric price tag of these bite-sized snacks. When eaten in moderation—about two ounces a day—nuts can help lower cholesterol and promote heart health. The skins of some nuts, like almonds, contain flavonoids and phenols, which may help decrease LDL oxidation. Be sure to opt for nuts that aren’t coated with salt or sugar for the best nutrition. 

Healthy Oils

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Not all fats are bad for you. In fact, some fats are beneficial to our hearts—canola, olive and more! The big difference between these and the artery-clogging oils found in fried and processed foods? Olive, corn, canola and soybean oils are mono- and polyunsaturated oils, some of which reduce cholesterol and reduce stroke and heart attack risks. Replace trans- and saturated fats, like coconut oil and butter, with these better-for-you fats.

Tip: Dark chocolate is loaded with heart-healthy fats and antioxidants. Remember to enjoy in moderation—a one-ounce serving is enough to benefit your body.

Grab Dr. Oz’s Cholesterol-Lowering Grocery List, and hit the supermarket.


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