While there are many medications that can help, you can lower your cholesterol naturally through a diet rich in healthy, nutritious foods, along with a regular exercise program. The National Institutes of Health recommends a balanced diet full of variety to benefit your cholesterol levels. While a generally nutritious diet is beneficial, there are also specific foods that lower cholesterol.
Oatmeal is a great source of fiber, which can lower your cholesterol. Replacing your morning donut or breakfast sandwich with a bowl of oatmeal topped with honey or fresh fruit can give you a heart-healthy start to your day. In addition, you can use oatmeal in other cooking. For example, The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends replacing breadcrumbs with uncooked oatmeal in your meatloaf.
Like oatmeal, beans are full of healthy fiber. Another benefit of beans is that they are diverse and flexible. From soups and stews to casseroles and salads, beans can be used in a variety of ways to increase fiber in your diet without sacrificing flavor. Many beans are also full of protein, making them a healthier alternative to animal proteins, such as beef.
Fish like salmon, albacore tuna and halibut are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of blood clots as well as lower blood pressure. In fact, one study conducted among the Inuit Eskimos (who have a diet rich omega-3 from fish) showed that they tend to have higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels and decreased triglycerides (fats) in the blood. Baking or grilling fish twice a week may help improve your heart health while providing variety in your diet.
Avocados are a vegetable rich in healthy fats that can help raise your “good” cholesterol while also lowering your “bad” cholesterol. Sliced avocado added to sandwiches is a flavorful way to add this heart-healthy food to your diet. However, it should be noted that avocados are high in calories. So they should be used as a replacement—not in addition to– another high-fat food like cheese or mayonnaise.
5. Apples (and other fruits)
Not only is fruit important for a balanced diet, but fresh fruits like apples have soluble fiber that can help lower your cholesterol. They can also help soothe a sweet tooth without turning to unhealthy desserts and sweets.
6. Ground Flaxseed
Flaxseed gets attention in vegetarian and vegan circles because of the vitamins it brings to the diet. However, it is also a soluble fiber, and studies have shown that it can have a cholesterol-lowering effect . When added to warm milk, ground flaxseed can make a delicious alternative to oatmeal for your breakfast. Add nuts or berries to the cereal for added fiber and flavor.
Another excellent way to naturally reduce cholesterol levels is through garlic. The seasoning comes in many forms: whole cloves, minced and powdered, and any form can be beneficial to your diet. However, it is most effective when you start with whole cloves added to your foods. In addition, garlic can replace salt as a seasoning in your food, which can help improve blood pressure.
Almonds and other nuts are among foods that lower cholesterol. In addition to reducing cholesterol levels, roasted almonds are a delicious, healthy snack food that can be used as an alternative to potato chips or other unhealthy snacks. This helps almonds pull “double duty” since they boost good cholesterol as well as reducing bad cholesterol.
Whether you are trying to lower your cholesterol on your own or following doctor’s orders to improve your health, finding foods that lower cholesterol can be a good way to naturally help reach your health goals. Not only can you boost your good cholesterol and lower your bad cholesterol, but eating healthy foods like beans, nuts and oatmeal can help you improve your overall health. For more helpful tips, take a look at our “Treatments” section.