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What foods can help lower cholesterol?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Foods that foster a healthy weight and cholesterol include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meats. There are also some foods that often work as natural or home remedies for high cholesterol. These include artichoke, barley, garlic, red yeast rice and oat bran.

A recent study found that a diet with a rich "portfolio" of cholesterol-lowering foods reduces cholesterol even better than a diet low in saturated fat. Which cholesterol-smart foods should you "invest" in? Consider these:

  • Plant sterols from sterol-fortified foods, such as margarine and orange juice
  • Soluble-fiber-rich oats
  • Barley
  • Psyllium
  • Beans and other legumes
  • Soy (from tofu, soy milk, and soy "meat")
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Coldwater fish, like salmon
Scott Pullen
Scott Pullen on behalf of dotFIT
Fitness Specialist

There are several simple dietary changes you can make to positively impact your cholesterol. For one, increase your soluble fiber intake. Foods high in soluble fiber include oatmeal and oat bran, apples, pears, kidney beans and prunes. These foods can help to lower your LDL cholesterol and decrease cholesterol absorption.

Increase your intake of fatty fish and omega-3 fatty acids. Good sources include mackerel, halibut, salmon and sardines. Shoot for at least two servings a week. If these fish do not appeal to you, you can include flaxseed, canola oil or fish oil supplements. These foods can lower blood pressure and reduce risk of blood clots.

Get a serving of nuts a day. Walnuts, pecans, almonds…almost any kind are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). To get the best benefits, keep them raw (no salt or sugar coatings) and watch your portions of these as the calories add up very quickly.

Add olive oil in place of other fats. Olive oil is rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids and is helpful in lowering LDL cholesterol, the bad one.

Substitute butter or regular margarine with specialty spreads. Many of these are now fortified with Omega-3s, mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Lastly, reduce your consumption of saturated fats, trans fats and junk. Add exercise on top of the mix and you are doing all that you can.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.