Cholesterol is a fat-based substance found in the blood that is naturally produced in the body by the liver. Cholesterol can be found in both plant and animal foods. It is classified into two different types: High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) – commonly known as good cholesterol and Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) commonly known as bad cholesterol.

– LDL cholesterol is thought to be bad for our bodies because it allows plaque to build up in our arteries which can result in heart attacks.

– HDL cholesterol on the other hand works to safeguard against the build-up of LDL cholesterol.

Cholesterol found in plant foods are more encouraged as they represent more HDL cholesterol rather than LDL more so found in animal foods such as red meat, milk, cheese etc.

The body uses cholesterol to ensure proper brain and neurotic development as well as to ensure hormone functioning. As important as they are however, too much cholesterol can be dangerous if not fatal.

As a result, it is necessary to reducing high levels of cholesterol in the body by reducing one’s intake of saturated fat.

Here are fifteen foods that will help you do just that.

1. Apples

fresh apples isolated on white background

Apples are rich in soluble fibre – pectin which works to lower LDL levels in the body. Apples are also rich in antioxidants which are found mostly in the skin. 

These help to prevent the buildup of LDL cholesterol that later clog the arteries as well as to protect the body’s immune system against diseases.

Key Point: An apple a day sure will help to keep the doctor away.

2. Avocado

avocado knife

The unsaturated fat in rich supply in avocados lowers LDL levels and raises HDL levels in the blood. Overall these fats help to reduce the amount of cholesterol the body absorbs from digested foods.

Be careful however as avocados are also high in calories.

Key Point: Avocados are a good plant source of unsaturated fat which is recommended for the body but eating too much will spike one’s caloric count.

3. Beans and Peas

Mixture of dry beans and peas isolated

Because of the slow digestion process in having beans, they create a feeling of being fuller longer and therefore urges you to consume less thus promoting weight loss.

Beans also provide a rich supply of fibre which combines with bile salts which are later excreted from the body.

Interestingly, studies conducted by Canadian researchers in the USA and Canada found that the health effects of including legumes in the diet were more evident in men than they were in women.

Key Point: Legumes and beans ensure a good supply of fibre, lower cholesterol and promote weight loss.

4. Carrots

carrots isolated on white background

Carrots are not just good for your eyes but they are totally cholesterol-free. They also are a source of soluble fibre useful in the excretion of salts as explained earlier.

In a study conducted by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, carrots were found to increase the level of antioxidants in the body and lower the levels of cholesterol found in the body.

Key Point: Eat carrots for your eyes and as a part of a cholesterol healthy diet.

5. Citrus

Lemons with leaves

Citrus fruits e.g.: oranges, grapefruit are rich in the fibre -pectin (as are apples) and antioxidants which are good for helping the body to reduce cholesterol levels by trapping it before the body has a chance to absorb it.

Many companies fortify orange juice by adding phytosterols which blocks cholesterol absorption in the small intestine, which in turn helps lower LDL.  

Key Point: Juice them or eat them for rich sources of fibre, Vitamin C and other nutrients.

6. Cooking Oil

Cooking Oil

Switch your cooking oil to more heart-healthy oils like olive oil, sunflower oil or safflower (to name a few) in order to lower overall cholesterol levels.

Olive in particular is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) which helps to promote weight loss in the abdominal region and protects the body against heart disease. 

Key Point: Using hearthealthy oils such as olive oil is useful for controlling cholesterol levels and managing body weight

7. Dark Chocolate

Stack of dark chocolate

If you’re a chocolate lover, you probably don’t need a reason to eat chocolate but I’m sure hearing that chocolate can help to lower cholesterol levels is one more reason for you to love the sweet treat.

In this case, you want to go for dark chocolate which is richer in antioxidants which helps in the fight against artery clogging. Again, watch out for that increase in calorie count.

Key Point: Dark Chocolate can help to lower cholesterol levels but moderation is key.

8. Green leafy vegetables

Dark green leafy vegetables in colander

Green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, kale and even cabbage contain fibrous nutrients that serve to emulsify fat which it then excretes from the body.

The benefit here is twofold. Not only does the fibre help to decrease cholesterol levels by excreting them, it also promotes losing weight by promoting the excretion of fat rather than storing them in the body’s reserve.

Key Point: Leafy vegetables provide a rich source of fibre which promotes weight loss and lowers cholesterol.

9. Green Tea

green tea with jasmine in cup and teapot on wooden table on green background

Green teas are known to be rich in antioxidants which has been said to have an effect of lowering the risk of atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

Western University of Health Sciences researchers in a study examining the correlation between drinking green tea and resulting blood lipid levels were able to conclude that green tea does contribute to the lowering of LDL levels.

Green teas contains the super antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is the active agent working to lower LDLs, prevent blood clots and even ward off cancer cells.

Green teas are highly recommended because they undergo minimal processing in the manufacturing process thereby ensuring its potency. 

Key Point: Drink green tea regularly not only to help to lower bad cholesterol but overall for its antioxidant powers.

10. Nuts

Nuts on a white background

Nuts such as almond, cashew, walnuts are good sources of fibre, protein, unsaturated fats- the kind fat we are encouraged to eat- among other nutrients.

Nuts are however high in calorie and therefore should be had moderately. To lower cholesterol levels, avoid nuts that are salted.

A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed a lowered cholesterol level in its participants over the course of one month. 

Key Point: Nuts are great for health but don’t go ‘nuts’ with them as they are high in caloric count.

11. Omega 3 rich foods

Salmon Steak

Fish such as tuna, salmon sardines and mackerel (as well as plant-based foods such as nuts and seeds) are rich in omega 3 oils which works to help prevent heart disease and stroke which may be caused by high cholesterol levels in the blood.

Studies conducted by the Loma Linda University in the United States of America, found that replacing saturated fats such as those found in red meat with omega-3 fats such as those found in oily fish e.g. sardines promoted an increase in HDL levels.

Key Point: According to The American Heart Association, include at least two servings of fish per week for a healthy dose of omega 3 oils.

12. Red grapes, berries & Red Wine

Red Wine

If you thought the saying “a little wine is good for the heart” was just a myth made up by wine lovers, then guess again. Wines made from red/black grapes contain a substance called resveratrol that acts as a cholesterol lowering agent.

It has been said that a glass of red wine after a meal rich in fat helps with the tightening of arteries that could occur after such a meal. This is by no means an invitation to rampup your intake of red wine.

Antioxidants received from a glass of red wine can be delivered by having grapes and other berries such as cranberries or blue berries in whatever form you like them.

Key Point: If you choose to drink red wine, do so responsibly, otherwise, having regular doses of grapes and berries should work just fine in helping to lower cholesterol levels.

13. Soy

Soy beans

Soy based foods such as soy milk, tofu, or soya beans generate nutrients such as Vitamin B, iron, calcium, protein, antioxidants and fibre which help the body to raise the level of good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol. Soy products are also cholesterol-free.

JW Anderson in a study examining the correlation between soy protein and cholesterol levels found marked decrease in overall cholesterol and LDL levels. His findings also revealed smaller increases in HDL levels.

Key Point: Soy produce used as a substitute for meat or milk products ensures a rich supply of nutrients while cutting cholesterol levels by lowering the supply of saturated fat in the body.

14. Tomatoes

Tomato basil

Tomatoes have long been praised for their rich antioxidant nature as a result of the presence of a substance called lycopene. Through this substance, tomatoes help to lower cholesterol levels by preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol in the body.

Key Point: Adding tomato as a part of your meal or cooking with tomato paste or drinking tomato juice will not only help to lower your cholesterol but can also help to fight cancer.

15. Whole Grains

Grain and Cereal Set (Brown Rice, Bran, Lentils, Rye Grains, Wheat Grains and Flakes, Buckwheat, Oats, Corn Grits, Wheat Groats, Split Peas, Whole Oats) Isolated on White Background

Whole grain foods such as oats, barley, cereal and wheat contain a necessary nutrient called beta-glucan which the body gets from external sources only. Beta glucan helps to keep the body’s immune system in shape and helps to regulate cholesterol levels by combining with LDL which is then excreted from the body.

Whole grains are also highly recommended as rich sources of fibre which helps in the fight against heart disease.

Key Point: Whatever the meal whether breakfast, in-between meals snack or even as a part of a wholesome dessert, include some whole grain to ensure a rich intake of fibre and beta glucan.

Final Thoughts

If you’re over 40, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your cholesterol levels. If you’re under forty it’s not too early to give your body a fighting chance for the years to come when cholesterol levels tend to peak.

Our bodies need cholesterol to assist in its daily functions.

In particular the body requires more HDL cholesterol and less LDL cholesterol. What steps will you take to safeguard your cholesterol levels and that family today?

15 Best Foods to Make Your Cholesterol Level Lower than Ever
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