6 foods to help bring down cholesterol.
Improving your cholesterol numbers just got tastier.
Looking to lower your cholesterol? One great place to start: your grocery cart. That’s because some pretty delicious foods may help bring your cholesterol down — reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
To help eat your way to better cholesterol levels and health:
1. Get cracking on nuts.
Some nuts — such as almonds, pecans and walnuts — are particularly good at lowering LDL. That’s the bad artery-clogging cholesterol that raises your risk of heart disease and stroke. All nuts are high in calories. So stick to a small handful when snacking.
2. Feast on fish.
This swimmingly good source of protein is low in saturated fat — a type of fat that raises cholesterol levels. Replacing meats high in saturated fat with healthier options, like fish, is a smart tactic to improve cholesterol levels.
Certain types of fish also provide heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Good choices include salmon, albacore tuna (fresh and canned), sardines, lake trout and mackerel. Aim for 2 servings of fatty fish at least twice a week.*
Vegan? No problem. Plant-based foods can provide omega-3s too, including walnuts and ground flaxseed.
3. Fiber-up with whole grains.
They’re a super source of soluble fiber, which helps remove LDL cholesterol from your body. Oats have more soluble fiber than any other whole grain.1 But you have options, including barley, bran, brown rice and quinoa. Try to make at least half of your grains whole varieties.
4. Bust out some beans.
Beans and legumes — from lima beans to lentils — are also rich in soluble fiber. Since they take time to digest, these hearty foods can also help you feel full longer. That makes them an especially good choice if you are trying to trim down.
A heart-healthy pantry pointer: Choose unsalted nuts and low-sodium versions of products like canned beans and soups.
5. Choose your oil with care.
Monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, may help improve cholesterol levels. And remember this little fact next time you make toast: Peanut butter or avocadoes are both tasty toppers that provide healthy fats.
6. Keep fruits in the loop.
Fruits are also high in soluble fiber — like whole grains and beans — which actually helps prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol.
Here’s a healthy start to your day: Top a bowl of cholesterol-lowering oatmeal with your favorite fruit, like strawberries, blueberries or a banana.
What to do next
Know your numbers. An annual wellness exam is a great place to start. You can also create a custom preventive care checklist based on your age and gender. Talk with your doctor about what’s right for you.
1American Heart Association
*Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not eat raw or partially cooked fish or shellfish, smoked seafood, or fish that is high in mercury or was caught in polluted waters. Contact your local health department to check for safety advisories for fish caught in local lakes, rivers and coastal areas.
Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American Heart Association; National Institutes of Health