Are you looking for lower cholesterol foods? Here’s your answer.
In this guide, we’ve included 40 foods that can improve your heart health and cholesterol levels.
Read this on to learn about keto foods, how to lower your cholesterol level in 7 days, and everything in between.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in the cells of the body.
It is an essential component of cell membranes and is also used to produce certain hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids that aid in digestion.
Cholesterol is carried through the bloodstream by molecules called lipoproteins.
There are two main types of lipoproteins involved in cholesterol transport: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
LDL cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, can build up in the arteries and form plaques, leading to a condition called atherosclerosis.
This can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is often called “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream and carries it back to the liver, where it is broken down and eliminated from the body.
Having high LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol levels can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Can you reduce cholesterol?
Yes, you can. One of the ways to do this is by prioritizing a healthy diet, especially foods that do not contain saturated fat.
40 Lower cholesterol foods
Here are 40 foods that can help lower cholesterol levels:
- Oats: Rich in soluble fiber, oats can help reduce LDL cholesterol.
- Barley: Another grain high in soluble fiber that aids in lowering cholesterol.
- Whole wheat: Choose whole wheat bread, pasta, and cereals for added fiber.
- Brown rice: High in fiber and nutrients, it can promote heart health.
- Quinoa: Contains fiber and plant compounds that may lower cholesterol levels.
- Lentils: Packed with soluble fiber, lentils are beneficial for reducing cholesterol.
- Beans: Beans, such as kidney beans and chickpeas, are excellent sources of soluble fiber.
- Chickpeas: Also known as garbanzo beans, they are heart-healthy legumes.
- Avocado: Rich in monounsaturated fats that can help raise HDL (good) cholesterol.
- Walnuts: These nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health.
- Almonds: Almonds are packed with healthy fats, fiber, and plant sterols.
- Pistachios: These nuts contain healthy fats and can improve cholesterol levels.
- Olive oil: Opt for extra virgin olive oil, a monounsaturated fat that can boost HDL cholesterol.
- Flaxseeds: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and lignans that can lower cholesterol.
- Chia seeds: These tiny seeds are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fatty fish: Fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Tofu: Made from soybeans, tofu is a great source of plant protein.
- Edamame: Young soybeans that are packed with fiber and protein.
- Spinach: Leafy greens like spinach are low in calories and high in fiber.
- Kale: Another nutrient-dense leafy green that can support heart health.
- Brussels sprouts: These vegetables are rich in fiber and antioxidants.
- Broccoli: Contains soluble fiber and can aid in cholesterol reduction.
- Carrots: High in soluble fiber and antioxidants, carrots benefit heart health.
- Apples: Apples contain pectin, a type of fiber that can lower cholesterol.
- Oranges: Rich in soluble fiber and vitamin C, oranges support heart health.
- Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are packed with antioxidants and fiber.
- Pears: High in fiber, pears can help reduce cholesterol levels.
- Grapes: These fruits contain antioxidants that promote heart health.
- Tomatoes: Rich in lycopene, tomatoes may help lower LDL cholesterol.
- Garlic: Garlic may have cholesterol-lowering properties and can benefit heart health.
- Onions: Onions contain compounds that can help lower cholesterol.
- Green tea: Drinking green tea regularly may reduce cholesterol levels.
- Dark chocolate: In moderation, dark chocolate with a high cocoa content can have heart benefits.
- Turmeric: This spice has anti-inflammatory properties and may improve cholesterol levels.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon may help lower LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Ginger: Ginger may have cholesterol-lowering effects and aid in heart health.
- Red wine: In moderation, red wine can have heart-healthy benefits.
- Low-fat yogurt: Choose low-fat yogurt with live cultures for a heart-healthy snack.
- Skim milk: Skim milk is low in fat and can be part of a heart-healthy diet.
- Dark leafy greens: Greens like Swiss chard and collard greens are packed with nutrients and fiber
What are the six super lower cholesterol foods?
Here are six foods that are generally considered beneficial for promoting heart health and potentially lowering cholesterol:
Oats: Oats and oatmeal contain a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which can help reduce LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) levels.
Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and other legumes are excellent sources of soluble fiber, which can help lower LDL cholesterol.
Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and other nuts are rich in heart-healthy fats, fiber, and plant sterols, all of which can help lower cholesterol.
Fatty fish: Fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a positive effect on heart health and cholesterol levels.
Avocado: They are a good source of monounsaturated fats, which can help increase HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and lower LDL cholesterol.
Berries: Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are rich in antioxidants and fiber, which can contribute to heart health.
Remember that while these foods can potentially help lower cholesterol, it’s important to have an overall healthy lifestyle and diet.
Lower cholesterol Keto Foods
While the ketogenic diet primarily focuses on reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat consumption, there are several keto-friendly foods that can help lower cholesterol levels.
Here are some examples:
Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet and contains antioxidants and monounsaturated fats that can have a positive impact on cholesterol levels.
Coconut oil: Although coconut oil is high in saturated fat, it consists mostly of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which may have a neutral effect on cholesterol levels.
Leafy greens: Vegetables like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are low in carbs and high in fiber, which can help reduce LDL cholesterol.
Eggs: Despite concerns in the past, research suggests that eggs can be included in a heart-healthy diet as they are rich in protein and provide various essential nutrients.
Full-fat dairy: Foods like cheese and full-fat yogurt, consumed in moderation, can be part of a ketogenic diet and may have a neutral effect on cholesterol levels.
Dark chocolate: Opt for high-quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% or higher) to enjoy its antioxidant properties and potential cholesterol-lowering effects.
Garlic: Garlic has been associated with reducing LDL cholesterol and preventing plaque buildup in the arteries.
How to reduce cholesterol in 7 days
Lowering cholesterol levels significantly in just seven days may be challenging, as it typically requires long-term lifestyle changes.
However, there are several strategies you can implement to start reducing cholesterol levels and promote overall heart health. Here are some recommendations:
Eat a heart-healthy diet
Focus on consuming foods low in saturated fats and trans fats. Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins (such as poultry, fish, and legumes), and healthy fats (such as nuts, seeds, and olive oil) into your meals.
Limit dietary cholesterol
Reduce your intake of high-cholesterol foods like red meat, organ meats, shellfish, and high-fat dairy products. Aim for no more than 200-300 mg of dietary cholesterol per day.
Increase fiber intake
Foods rich in soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol levels. Include sources like oats, barley, legumes, fruits (such as apples, berries, and citrus fruits), and vegetables (such as Brussels sprouts and broccoli) in your diet.
Choose healthier cooking methods
Opt for baking, grilling, steaming, or sautéing instead of frying. This helps reduce the amount of unhealthy fats in your meals.
Engage in moderate-intensity aerobic exercises for at least 150 minutes per week. This can include activities like brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or jogging.
Exercise helps raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Maintain a healthy weight
Losing excess weight can positively impact cholesterol levels. Aim for a gradual and sustainable weight loss approach through a combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise.
Limit alcohol consumption
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Excessive alcohol intake can raise cholesterol levels and contribute to other health problems.
Smoking damages blood vessels lowers HDL cholesterol, and increases the risk of heart disease.
Quitting smoking can improve your cholesterol profile and overall health.
While these lifestyle changes may not result in a dramatic reduction in cholesterol within a week, they can set you on a path toward long-term improvements.
Lower cholesterol foods that lower high blood pressure:
- Berries (such as blueberries and strawberries)
- Olive oil
- Chia seeds
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate (in moderation)
- Green tea
- Low-fat dairy products
What foods should you avoid if you have high cholesterol?
If you have high cholesterol, it is generally recommended to avoid or limit certain foods that can contribute to elevated cholesterol levels.
Here are some foods you should consider avoiding:
Saturated and Trans Fats
These fats can raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Avoid or minimize intake of fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, butter, lard, and processed foods like cookies, cakes, and fried foods.
Limit your consumption of fatty cuts of meat such as beef, pork, and lamb. Trim visible fat and remove the skin from poultry before cooking.
Organ meats like liver, kidney, and brain are high in cholesterol content and should be avoided or eaten sparingly.
Some shellfish, such as shrimp and lobster, are relatively low in total fat but can be high in cholesterol. It’s best to moderate your intake of these.
Full-Fat Dairy Products
Opt for low-fat or skim versions of milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products to reduce your intake of saturated fats and cholesterol.
Many processed foods contain trans fats and high levels of sodium, which can increase cholesterol levels and negatively affect heart health. Examples include packaged snacks, fast food, and commercially baked goods.
Fried foods are often cooked in unhealthy oils and can significantly raise your cholesterol levels. Choose healthier cooking methods like baking, grilling, or steaming instead.
While eggs can be part of a healthy diet, the yolks are high in cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, it’s advisable to limit your consumption of whole eggs or use egg whites instead.
Foods like cakes, cookies, pastries, and ice cream often contain high amounts of saturated and trans fats. Opt for healthier dessert options such as fruit, yogurt, or low-fat versions.
Reduce your intake of processed meats like sausages, bacon, and deli meats, as they are often high in saturated fats and sodium.
More related questions
What lowers cholesterol the fastest?
Eat heart-healthy food. This alongside exercise can lower your cholesterol level fast.
Is rice good for high cholesterol?
Yes, it is. Brown rice is one of the best foods to include in your diet when you’re trying to reduce LDL cholesterol.
Can you eat bread if you have high cholesterol?
Yes, you can. Whole grain bread or whole wheat bread can help lower your cholesterol level.
What is the best drink to lower cholesterol?
Green tea. This is because it contains antioxidants that help lower cholesterol levels. Other supporting drinks include oat drinks and berry smoothies.
Finding foods that lower cholesterol levels is as easy as using a guide like this one. With the foods we reviewed here and other health tips, you can lower bad cholesterol and improve the good one.
It’s all up to you, so what will you choose.