Foods That Can Help to Lower Cholesterol

If you’re looking to lower your cholesterol, your diet is a good place to start. But that doesn’t necessarily mean calorie counting. There are many everyday foods that are beneficial when seeking to reduce high cholesterol levels. By working these into your diet, while avoiding foods with high levels of saturated fats, you can help to take control of your cholesterol.

10 Key Cholesterol Lowering Foods

1. Oats

Oats contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucan, which is scientifically proven to lower your blood cholesterol levels. It does this by forming a gel-like layer in the gut when it absorbs water. This layer binds cholesterol from food and cholesterol-rich bile acids in the gut, preventing the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Helping to lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.

A daily intake of 3g of oat beta-glucans can produce this beneficial effect of lowering blood cholesterol levels.

2. Nuts

Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, are a great source of fibre, unsaturated fat (good fats) and protein. Some studies also show that they have cholesterol-lowering abilities and nutrients for a healthy heart. 

3. Oily Fish

Salmon and mackerel, for example, are oily fish that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Research suggests that these fatty acids can lower triglyceride (fat) levels in the blood, reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing blood clots. All important factors for people who have high cholesterol levels. 

Vegan sources of Omega 3 include flaxseed Oil and algae oil supplementation. 

4. Barley, Wholegrains and Beans 

Rich in soluble fibre, barley, whole grains, and beans help to lower cholesterol by binding to it in the small intestine and excreting it out of the body. Preventing the cholesterol from entering the bloodstream. 

5. Soy

Soy-based foods, such as tofu, soy milk and edamame, are great replacements for otherwise fatty and cholesterol-rich foods such as cow’s milk and fatty meats. 

Although there is no evidence for soy products lowering cholesterol levels, using them as a replacement for ingredients that would otherwise raise your cholesterol levels is a great way to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. They are not only low in saturated fats but are also a great source of protein.

6. Vegetable Oils

Switching out butter and saturated fats for vegetable oil and spreads that are high in unsaturated fats are a great way to lower your cholesterol levels. 

7. Fruits like apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits

Fruits that are rich in pectin, which is a type of soluble fibre can help to lower LDL (bad cholesterol). 

8. Sterols and stanols 

Sterols and stanols are extracted from plant gum and are similar in structure to cholesterol, helping the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. More are being added to foods but can also be found as supplements. 2 grams of stanols or plant sterols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%.

9. Avocados

Avocados are a potent source of nutrients as well as monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Adding an avocado a day to a heart-healthy diet is one way to try and improve LDL cholesterol levels.

10. Whey Protein

Whey protein, which is sourced from dairy products, has been shown to lower both LDL and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure when given as a supplement. 

When working to lower cholesterol, people often focus on what they need to remove from their diet. Red meat, butter, cheese. And that’s true. These items do contain a lot of saturated fat, which can significantly impact your cholesterol levels. That’s why they should only be eaten in moderation. However, you can also improve your cholesterol levels by adding beneficial foods to your diet too. And the ten foods listed above provide a good grounding for a healthier future. 

Written by: Deepali Shah Katira

NPD Nutritionist Deepali Shah Katira has a wealth of experience in nutrition, including a Bachelor (BSc) Hons degree in Nutrition she is also a registered member of the Association for Nutrition (ANutr)