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11 Foods To Lower Cholesterol That You Must Explore And Add To Your Diet

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Heart disorders are affecting a majority of the population worldwide. The primary cause of heart disorders is unbalanced cholesterol levels in the blood.

Generally, the body contains two types of cholesterol, i.e., low-density or bad cholesterol and high-density or good cholesterol.

The LDL or bad cholesterol may accumulate fat in the bloodstream, interrupting blood flow. But, HDL or good cholesterol could help remove harmful cholesterol via the liver.

Hence, you may observe that a decrease in LDL and an increase in HDL would create the required balance. In addition, you could go with naturally produced food items and may as well stay away from some foods to avoid high cholesterol.

Having said all that, this article will list some of the useful food items to lower cholesterol.

11 Foods To Lower Cholesterol

  1. Beans And Lentils

    Beans and lentils are one of the best natural medicines to lower blood cholesterol levels. These seed-like veggies are highly fibrous, with various vitamins and minerals essential to stay healthy.

    The vital nutritional content of beans and lentils may help to avoid the risks of developing heart problems. The study[1] has revealed that beans and lentils may reduce the LDL cholesterol level by 5% after a few weeks of regular consumption.

    Several studies also stated that these veggies primarily benefit men’s LDL cholesterol, as they may have higher cholesterol due to a poor diet.

    Hence, these legumes could be a potential replacement for several high saturated fat-containing or high-glycemic foods like red meat, cheese, white rice, etc.

  2. Eggplant

    Eggplant is preferably a great pick to lower blood cholesterol levels. The vegetable is one of the richest sources of dietary fiber, i.e., up to 3 gm fiber in 100 gm of eggplant.

    It is a low-fat-containing food with several bioactive compounds helpful to keep bad cholesterol levels low. Moreover, a particular compound, saponins, could help balance the LDL and HDL levels in the bloodstream.

    Researchers[2] have conducted several surveys to review the impact of eggplant on bad cholesterol levels. The surveys have shown that people consuming eggplant often may lower their LDL levels by up to 30%.

    Hence, the vegetable may help avoid the risk of several chronic and fatal disorders like heart attacks, strokes, type-2 diabetes, etc.

  3. Nuts

    Generally, you might be eating nuts like almonds and walnuts to improve brain functioning. But, you aren’t aware that these densely packed, nutritious food may help you balance your blood cholesterol levels.

    The nuts contain phytosterols, a compound structurally similar to cholesterol. The compound could help restrict[3] the absorption of bad cholesterol by the intestines, lowering their level in the blood.

    Moreover, the nuts also contain monounsaturated fats, which may help reduce the risk of heart diseases.

    Among nuts, walnuts[4] and almonds[5] could be the best natural remedy for blood cholesterol problems. Walnuts contain a polyunsaturated fat compound, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that may help keep the heart-healthy.

    On the other hand, almonds contain L-arginine, which enhances the production of nitric oxide, responsible for dilating the blood vessels.

  4. Oats And Barley

    Oats and barley are superb food items to include in the diet. Several studies have mentioned that consuming oats and barley multiple times a day has significantly lowered the chances of developing heart diseases.

    Oats and barley contain a high amount of fiber, carbohydrates, healthy fat, essential vitamins, and minerals to lower blood cholesterol levels.

    Moreover, they also have a few plant compounds that may help keep the heart-healthy. Generally, oats and barley contain a soluble fiber called beta-glucan that may lower cholesterol.

    A deeper analysis[6] has shown that oats and barley may reduce overall cholesterol levels by 5%. But, it may reduce the bad cholesterol or LDL level by up to 7% in the blood.

  5. Vegetable Oil

    Butter and refined oil used to cook food contain a high amount of saturated fat, which could be highly responsible for the increased bad cholesterol levels in the blood.

    High cholesterol may impact heart health; hence, the consumption of these oils should be avoided. Vegetable oils like sunflower oil, olive oil, etc., are an excellent replacement for high-fat-containing oils.

    These vegetable oils contain an essential compound, linoleic acid, which may help lower blood cholesterol. The compound is present in almost all vegetable oils but different concentrations.

    For example, sunflower oil contains a high level[7] of linoleic acid. On the other hand, olive oil may have a lower concentration of linoleic acid.

    Hence, you should replace refined oil with vegetable oil to improve your cholesterol and overall heart health.

  6. Apples

    Apple is one of the excellent low sugar fruits  with multiple medicinal values; hence, doctors highly recommend its consumption. One apple may contain up to 3-8 gm of dietary fibers as per their size.

    Additionally, apples contain various bioactive compounds, vitamins, and minerals that may be responsible for keeping cholesterol levels low.

    The government study[8] has suggested that people consuming one or two apples a day have shown a significant drop in their bad and overall cholesterol levels.

    Moreover, it may help reduce triglycerides, a fat molecule in the bloodstream. It has been revealed that the reduction in cholesterol levels could be due to a compound called polyphenols.

    The compound may help to improve the function of the inner linings of the heart and blood vessels that positively impact the cholesterol level.

  7. Soy

    You may add multiple soy products like soybeans, tofu, soy milk, etc., to your diet to improve your overall cholesterol level.

    Some surveys have reported that people who consume soy products in their meals may observe a drop[9] in their bad cholesterol levels by up to 3%.

    The soy products may be less effective for improving cholesterol levels, but they may add-on to improving heart health. Soy products are rich in proteins, fibers, omega-3 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients.

    Additionally, these food items are cholesterol-free with low saturated fat content. Hence, you may opt for them as an alternative option to meat and other foods containing saturated fat.

  8. Dark Chocolate

    Dark chocolates are great for improving the overall health of an individual. The high cocoa content of dark chocolate contains several antioxidants, especially flavonoids, that may protect against several heart diseases.

    Short-term consumption of dark chocolate has shown a significant drop in total and bad cholesterol levels in the blood. But, it would be best if you consider less processed and high cocoa-containing chocolates to avail of the benefits.

    Dark chocolates with greater cocoa content may have higher polyphenol concentrations[10]. The compound could help increase the high-density lipoprotein or good cholesterol levels.

    Moreover, dark chocolates are low in saturated fat, hence, they are an adequate food to consume occasionally to balance cholesterol levels.

  9. Herbal Tea

    Herbs are being used as a natural remedy for several health conditions. Herbal tea contains several essential antioxidants and natural caffeine that may help to fight against free radicals.

    Additionally, herbal tea has several important[11] micro and macronutrients that may keep the heart healthy. The strength of antioxidants primarily depends on the herb and processing of the tea.

    Generally, hibiscus tea contains the highest antioxidants; hence, it could be a valuable beverage to lower cholesterol.

    Green tea is another commonly preferred herbal beverage that has been extensively used to reduce LDL or bad cholesterol levels.

    Similarly, ginger tea and redbush tea may considerably contribute to lowering the cholesterol level in the blood.

  10. Fatty Fish

    Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, herring, etc., could play a helpful role in improving the blood cholesterol level and heart health.

    These fishes primarily contain[12] healthy or good fat, i.e., omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, they barely have bad saturated food that may affect their cholesterol level.

    It is believed that the omega-3 fatty acid content in fatty acids may help lower the triglyceride concentration in the blood. Moreover, the fatty acid could also help prevent the growth of plaques in arteries and inflammatory reactions in the body.

    Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration has approved omega-3 fatty acids as a natural way to reduce the risks of coronary heart diseases.

    But, you should avoid deep-frying the fish to keep the nutritional values intact.

  11. Garlic

    Allium sativum or garlic is one of the most advantageous foods people consume in their diet. Garlic contains a unique compound called allicin, which could help kill growing bacteria and fungi in the body.

    But, it could be a potential remedy to lower bad cholesterol. Multiple pieces of research and this study[13] have mentioned that garlic has shown cholesterol-lowering effects.

    People consuming up to one gram of garlic daily may observe a significant drop in their cholesterol levels. It is believed that the decline may depend on the quantity of garlic consumed.

    But, the decrease in cholesterol level would be temporary, hence, it could not be considered for long-term effects.

Conclusion

The food items mentioned above may help you lower your blood cholesterol levels. But, they might bring a small change individually, hence, you must mix up multiple food items to observe a significant difference in cholesterol level.

For example, you may consider oats and soy meal together or fatty fish fried in vegetable oil to get the best benefits. But, before adding or changing your diet, you should consult a dietitian or healthcare specialist to get the best advice.

+13 References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Vanessa Ha, John L. Sievenpiper, Russell J. de Souza, et al. Effect of dietary pulse intake on established therapeutic lipid targets for cardiovascular risk reduction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials CMAJ. 2014 May 13; 186(8): E252–E262.
    doi: 10.1503/cmaj.131727
  2. P A Jorge, L C Neyra, R M Osaki, et al. [Effect of eggplant on plasma lipid levels, lipidic peroxidation and reversion of endothelial dysfunction in experimental hypercholesterolemia] Arq Bras Cardiol. 1998 Feb;70(2):87-91. doi: 10.1590/s0066-782×1998000200004. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9659714/
  3. J Mukuddem-Petersen, W Oosthuizen, and JC Jerling A systematic review of the effects of nuts on blood lipid profiles in humans Review published: 2005. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK72156/
  4. Deirdre K Banel and Frank B Hu Effects of walnut consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis and systematic review Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul; 90(1): 56–63. Published online 2009 May 20. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27457
  5. Claire E Berryman, Amy Griel Preston, Wahida Karmally, et al. Effects of almond consumption on the reduction of LDL-cholesterol: a discussion of potential mechanisms and future research directions Nutr Rev. 2011 Apr;69(4):171-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00383.x. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21457263/
  6. Jaimee Hughes and Sara Grafenauer Oat and Barley in the Food Supply and Use of Beta Glucan Health Claims Nutrients. 2021 Aug; 13(8): 2556.
    Published online 2021 Jul 26. doi: 10.3390/nu13082556
  7. Margaret A Allman-Farinelli, Kerry Gomes, Emmanuel J Favaloro, et al. A diet rich in high-oleic-acid sunflower oil favorably alters low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and factor VII coagulant activity J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Jul;105(7):1071-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2005.04.008. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15983523/
  8. Athanasios Koutsos, Samantha Riccadonna, Maria M Ulaszewska, et al. Two apples a day lower serum cholesterol and improve cardiometabolic biomarkers in mildly hypercholesterolemic adults: a randomized, controlled, crossover trial Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 Feb 1;111(2):307-318. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqz282. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31840162/
  9. Kyoko Taku, Keizo Umegaki, Yoko Sato, et al. Soy isoflavones lower serum total and LDL cholesterol in humans: a meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):1148-56. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/85.4.1148. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17413118/
  10. Thea Magrone, Matteo Antonio Russo, and Emilio Jirillo. Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Polyphenols: From Biology to Clinical Applications Front Immunol. 2017; 8: 677. Published online 2017 Jun 9. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00677
  11. Renfan Xu, Ke Yang, Sui Li, et al. Effect of green tea consumption on blood lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials Nutr J. 2020; 19: 48. Published online 2020 May 20. doi: 10.1186/s12937-020-00557-5
  12. Ingrid V Hagen, Anita Helland, Marianne Bratlie, et al. High intake of fatty fish, but not of lean fish, affects serum concentrations of TAG and HDL-cholesterol in healthy, normal-weight adults: a randomised trial Br J Nutr. 2016 Aug;116(4):648-57. doi: 10.1017/S0007114516002555. Epub 2016 Jul 1. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27363518/
  13. Negar Aslani, Mohammad Hasan Entezari, Gholamreza Askari, et al. Effect of Garlic and Lemon Juice Mixture on Lipid Profile and Some Cardiovascular Risk Factors in People 30-60 Years Old with Moderate Hyperlipidaemia: A Randomized Clinical Trial Int J Prev Med. 2016; 7: 95. Published online 2016 Jul 29. doi: 10.4103/2008-7802.187248

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