Cholesterol-Lowering Foods

Just as a diet rich in cholesterol-boosting foods and saturated fats may have given you high cholesterol, one rich in cholesterol-lowering foods may help you lower your “bad” cholesterol levels.

woman holding flower in fieldTransitioning to a “dietary portfolio” that combines a variety of cholesterol-lowering foods can be an effective way to lower your “bad” cholesterol levels and improve your overall health.

A study conducted by Dr. David A. Jenkins of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto found that combining foods with recognized cholesterol-lowering properties proved very effective in lowering serum cholesterol under metabolically controlled conditions.
The study concluded that use of a cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio resulted in greater LDL-C lowering during 6 months of follow-up.

Foods that can lower cholesterol

  • Fatty fish: eating two servings of fatty fish (good fat) like salmon, tuna, mackerel or bluefish per week will not only increase your intake of cholesterol-cutting omega-3s, but potentially reduce consumption of meats and protein sources containing LDL-boosting saturated fats (bad fats).
  • Nuts: whole almonds, walnuts and peanuts (unsalted of course) have been shown to slightly lower LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Beans: including navy, lentils, garbanzo, and kidney.
  • Vegetables: garlic, okra, spinach, eggplant and other veggies rich in soluble fiber.
  • Fruit: including avocado, apples, strawberries, grapes and citrus.
  • Grains: oats, barley, psyllium and other whole grains.
  • Liquid vegetable oils: canola, sunflower, safflower, and others and margarine enriched with plant sterols in place of butter, lard, or shortening when cooking or as condiments.
  • Soy products and tofu: products made from soybeans can have a modest impact on lowering cholesterol and can have the added bonus of replacing some animal protein in your diet.


Don’t eat:

  • Fatty meats.
  • Fat-rich dairy products like whole milk and cheeses.
  • Processed foods loaded with trans fats, saturated fats, salt and chemicals.

Do eat:

  • Foods high in omega-3s, including fatty fishes.
  • Foods high in soluble fiber.
  • Whole grains.
  • Low-fat dairy products.
  • Lean meats and poultry.

Exercise regularly: Excess weight boosts harmful LDL levels.

Note: Genetics play a major role in our cholesterol levels and overall heart-health. Have your cholesterol levels tested regularly and heed your doctor’s advice on cholesterol-lowering medications, statins and daily dietary supplementation.

Additional sources:

The Harvard Heart Letter 

Mayo Clinic

Related: more articles on heart health featured on the FPIM blog

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