The Best Cholesterol-Lowering Foods for a Heart-Healthy Diet

Cholesterol-Lowering Foods

Eating a heart-healthy diet is essential for those looking to keep their cholesterol numbers in check and maintain their overall health. Knowing which foods to include and avoid can make a big difference. Adding foods that lower cholesterol levels helps to reduce your risk for heart disease.

Oats and Oat Bran

Oats and oat bran are both especially high in fiber, which can help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as “bad” cholesterol. Oats contain both soluble and insoluble fiber and have been shown to help reduce cholesterol. For example, one study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that consuming a daily, high-fiber oat cereal boosted participants’ levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, and lowered LDL levels by up to 5%.

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Beans and Legumes

Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and peas, are a great source of dietary fiber that benefits cholesterol levels and heart health. For example, one study published in The Canadian Journal of Cardiology found that consuming 20 grams of soy proteins from soy foods daily reduced LDL cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring, are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Like dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce cholesterol levels and heart disease risk. Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the impact of vegan and fish diets on cholesterol levels. The study found that consuming fatty fish daily decreased LDL levels by an average of 9.7 mg/dL and total cholesterol by an average of 11.9 mg/dL.

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Avocados

Avocados are a great source of healthy monounsaturated fat and contain some soluble fiber, making them a great choice for anyone looking to reduce their cholesterol levels. One analysis published in the journal Nutrients looked at the impact of avocados on cholesterol levels. The analysis found that eating one avocado a day for five weeks was linked to a 13.5% decrease in LDL cholesterol and a 22.4% increase in HDL cholesterol levels.

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Making a Heart-Healthy Diet Work

The key to a heart-healthy diet is to choose your foods wisely and to stick to a healthy eating plan. To get started, focus on adding a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources to your diet. You should also limit the consumption of unhealthy fats and added sugars. For optimal health, be sure to speak to your doctor or a registered dietitian about your individual nutrition needs.