Top 10 List of Good Cholesterol Foods

Quincy AdamDiet, High Cholesterol Diet, High Cholesterol Lifestyle

Top Ten Cholesterol Foods
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s essential to your overall health. It helps your body produce certain hormones and vitamins, and it aids digestion.

Your body naturally makes cholesterol and also takes it from food. Good cholesterol foods have the ability to lower LDL (or “bad” cholesterol) levels or increase HDL (“good” cholesterol) in your body.

How Good Cholesterol Foods Work

Some foods lower cholesterol because of the way they interact with the body. Foods with polyunsaturated fats, for instance, directly lower LDL levels. Foods containing soluble fiber bind cholesterol with proteins, which travel to the liver and allow your body to prevent its absorption. Eating 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber per day may help you decrease LDL and total cholesterol. Here’s a “Top 10” list to help you choose the best foods for maintaining healthy levels.

Top 10 Good Cholesterol Foods

1. Oats

Oats are a good source of soluble fiber, which reduces your body’s ability to absorb cholesterol. As little as 1 ½ cups of cooked oatmeal has 6 grams of fiber.

2. Barley

Like oats, whole-grain barley is packed with soluble fiber. Half a cup of cooked barley has 3 grams of dietary fiber.

3. Beans

Beans are rich in soluble fiber. Depending on the type of cooked bean you eat, half a cup can have between 6 and 9 grams.

4. Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Fatty fish, like salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids that help increase HDL levels, while lowering LDL levels and triglycerides in the blood.

5. Nuts

Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, nuts can help reduce blood cholesterol. Consuming as little as 2 ounces per day can lower your LDL level by up to 5 percent, according to the Harvard Medical School1.

6. Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables that are nutrient-rich, “good” cholesterol foods complement a heart-healthy diet. These include green peas, pears, mixed vegetables and leafy greens.

7. Olive oil

Olive oil, particularly extra-virgin olive oil, is full of antioxidants that lower LDL cholesterol levels. You only need 2 tablespoons a day to reap the health benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic2.

8. High-pectin fruits

Fruits like bananas, apples and citrus contain high levels of pectin. When pectin binds to cholesterol, it becomes a soluble fiber and prevents cholesterol absorption3.

9. Foods with plant stanols or sterols

Plant sterols and stanols make it more difficult for the body to absorb the cholesterol in food, and can lower LDL cholesterol levels by up to 10 percent. While small amounts are found naturally in foods like wheat germ, wheat bran, peanuts, almonds, brussel sprouts and some vegetable oils, stanols and sterols are often used to fortify common foods, such as some margarines and orange juices.

10. Soy

Soy products are high in dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Whole soybeans, tofu and soy beverages are good choices to include in your diet.

Lowering your blood cholesterol doesn’t mean you have to give up on tasty foods. Incorporating these ten good cholesterol foods is a healthy way to add variety to your diet without sacrificing flavor. If you’re watching your cholesterol, be sure to talk to your physician or a registered nutritionist about your diet. He or she may have other suggestions to add to this list as well as foods to avoid to help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels.


1Harvard Medical School. 11 Foods that Lower Cholesterol. Harvard Health Publications. October 1, 2009. Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/11-foods-that-lower-cholesterol. Accessed February 24, 2015.
2 Mayo Clinic. Cholesterol: Top 5 Foods to Lower Your Numbers. Disease and Conditions: Cholesterol. July 27, 2012. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/art-20045192?pg=1. Accessed February 24, 2015.
3 Sriamornsak P. Chemistry of Pectin and Its Pharmaceutical Uses: A Review. Silpakorn University Science and Technology Journal. January to December 2003. http://www.journal.su.ac.th/index.php/suij/article/viewFile/56/37. Accessed February 24, 2015.