There are many foods and diets that can help lower “bad” cholesterol. They can lower your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and total cholesterol. More importantly, it can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Healthy foods are rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins from fish, beans and nuts. You should avoid sweets and sugar-sweetened drinks. You should also limit red meats. Here are some specific examples of foods to eat and to avoid.
Good Foods to Eat
- Foods that have soluble fiber such as barley, oats, apples, bananas, berries, citrus fruits, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, dry beans, peas,
- Foods that have plant sterols and stanols such as vegetable oils, margarines, seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits
- Fatty fish such as salmon
Eat in Moderation
- Egg yolks or whole eggs
- Lean poultry
Foods to Avoid
- Red meat, processed meats (sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers, salami, bologna, ground beef)
- Butter and cream
- Sugar-sweetened foods and drinks
- Bakery products such as doughnuts, muffins, croissants, cakes, pies, cookies
- Processed snacks such as chips, crackers, buttered popcorn
- Whole milk products
There are also several healthy diets that may lower cholesterol. These include:
- The Mediterranean Diet. This diet contains more fruits and seafood and less dairy than the average healthy diet in the United States. It is rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil. It limits the amount of poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt you can eat. It is very limited in red meats, processed meats (sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers, salami, bologna, ground beef), pizza, chips, and sweetened foods.
- The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet. This diet was designed for people with high blood pressure. But it can also lower cholesterol. It is rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber, and low-fat dairy products. It limits animal protein, saturated fat, and added sugars.
- Vegetarian Diet. This diet does not include any meat, poultry, or seafood.
- Vegan Diet. This diet does not include any animal products (including milk and eggs).
Healthy foods can only lower your cholesterol if you make changes to your daily diet. Adopt healthy eating habits and stick with it.
Healthy fats, fruits, and nuts can help your cholesterol, no ifs, ands, or buts!