Experts Say Eating These 14 Foods Can Help You Lower Your Cholesterol
These delicious fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes are all high in fiber.
Although cholesterol is not inherently bad for you, health experts say that high levels of a certain type of cholesterol can cause fatty buildups in your arteries, which may lead to severe heart problems including heart disease or a heart attack. According to the American Heart Association, high cholesterol may be genetic but it can also be caused by smoking, a poor diet, or lack of physical exercise. If you're actively trying to lower your cholesterol, add—or increase certain amounts—of healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes to your diet, which will have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being, too.
There are two kinds of cholesterol—HDL (high-density lipoprotein), which is considered good cholesterol, and LDL (low-density lipoprotein), the bad kind of cholesterol. Experts say that adding ingredients with high levels of soluble and dietary fiber can have the most significant impact on lowering bad cholesterol levels. Legumes, which includes black beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, are one of the best things you can eat to increase fiber and lower cholesterol.
Of course, health experts always tout the benefits of raw fruits and vegetables. While all produce has health benefits, those that are the best for lowering cholesterol include bananas, citrus fruit, apples, plums (and prunes), grapes, and strawberries. Even cooked fruits and vegetables have some health benefits but if you want to maximize their nutritional content, they're best consumed raw. Here, we're sharing the best foods to add to your diet to lower high levels of bad cholesterol.
Also in the legume family, chickpeas contain one gram of soluble fiber and six grams of dietary fiber. A 2014 study found that eating just one serving of chickpeas a day can reduce bad cholesterol.
Certain fruits including apples are rich in pectin, which is packed with soluble fiber and can lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein). They're a winning snack on their own, but they can be added to both sweet and savory dishes for a health boost.
One cup of cooked, pearled barley contains six grams of dietary fiber, making it one of the most nutritious foods you can eat when you want to lower cholesterol and your overall risk of heart disease.
High in protein and fiber, lentils can help leave you feeling fuller for longer, which can also aid with weight loss. Lentils contain one gram of soluble fiber and eight grams of dietary fiber.
Studies show that eating just two ounces of nuts—whether it be almonds, cashews, peanuts, or walnuts—a day can slightly lower levels of bad cholesterol, according to Harvard Medical School. Nuts also contain omega-3s and unsaturated fat, which can boost your heart health.
Black-eyed peas contain one gram of soluble fiber and 5.5 grams of total fiber, which can help to lower bad cholesterol and keep you feeling full.
Eat a banana on its own or slice it over oatmeal for even more soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol. One banana contains one gram of soluble fiber and three grams of dietary fiber.
One cup of pitted prunes contains 12 grams of dietary fiber, which makes this the perfect thing to snack on when you want to lower high levels of cholesterol.