Your body needs cholesterol, but it can cause a lot of trouble if there’s too much of it. You can lower your cholesterol, of course, with medications your doctor can prescribe for you. But eating certain foods can also help you bring down dangerous LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels.
According to the Harvard Medical School, these foods include the following.
Oats and oat bran. These provide a lot of soluble fiber. Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber daily. Soluble fiber takes a while for the body to digest, so you feel full longer after a meal and are less tempted to eat unhealthy snacks.
Barley and other whole grains. These help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver.
Certain fruits. Apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits contain a lot of in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that, again, lowers LDL.
Beans. These are a versatile group of foods that are especially rich in soluble fiber. They’re useful for losing weight.
Nuts. Dozens of studies have indicated that almonds, walnuts and other nuts are great for your heart. Eating just a few ounces of nuts every day can lower bad cholesterol by as much as 5%.
Fiber supplements. Supplements are quick and easy, though not as appealing as healthy, flavorful foods. Two teaspoons a day of psyllium, which is found in Metamucil and other bulk-forming laxatives, provide about 4 grams of soluble fiber.
Fatty fish. There are two ways that eating fish lowers LDL. First, you eat less of the meat that has higher levels of LDL. Second, certain types of fatty fish contain omega-3 fats. Omega-3s reduce artery-clogging triglycerides in the bloodstream. You should eat fish two or three times a week. Salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, herring, and lake trout are good choices.
Vegetable oils. These also help lower bad cholesterol when used in place of butter, lard, or shortening for cooking. Healthier vegetable oils include canola, sunflower, safflower, extra-virgin olive oil, and avocado oil.
It’s definitely smart to work in as many of the foods I’ve mentioned as you can. Some recent studies have indicated that by lowering your cholesterol by just 10 percent you can significantly reduce your risk of having a heart attack someday.