It’s easy to eat your way to a high cholesterol level. But the reverse is true, too—changing what you eat can lower your cholesterol and improve the fats floating through your bloodstream, reports the October 2009 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter.
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds to cholesterol in the digestive system and drags it out of the body. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which lower LDL, the "bad" cholesterol. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block cholesterol absorption. Here are some of the best choices:
Oats, barley, other whole grains, beans, eggplant, and okra. These can lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver.
Nuts. Studies show that daily consumption of 2 ounces of nuts—like almonds, walnuts, and peanuts—lowers LDL around 5%.
Vegetable oils. Using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening helps lower LDL.
Apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber.
Food fortified with sterols and stanols. Sterols and stanols gum up the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Companies are adding them to foods ranging from margarine to orange juice and chocolate.
Soy. Eating soybeans and foods made from them can lower LDL.
Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL by delivering omega-3 fats.
Fiber supplements. Supplements offer a way to get soluble fiber.
The Harvard Heart Letter notes that adding several foods that fight high cholesterol in different ways should work better than focusing on one or two.
Read the full-length article: "11 foods that lower cholesterol"