Top 12 Cholesterol-Lowering Foods
1. Vegetables (Especially Greens!)
No doubt about it, nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory vegetables are one of the most high-antioxidant foods. Loaded with phytochemicals that fight free radical damage, they slow down the aging process and keep arteries flexible and healthy. Many dark leafy greens, like spinach and kale, contain very few calories but offer protection against heart attacks by helping artery walls stay clear of cholesterol buildup. While nearly every type is a good choice, vegetables — including benefit-rich beets, onions, cabbage, broccoli and artichokes — are especially useful for upping your fiber intake and protecting heart health.
Nuts of all kinds make a good source of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They also provide a decent amount of fiber. Certain nuts including almondsspecifically supply antioxidant flavonoids, plant-based compounds that improve artery health and reduce inflammation. Studies show nuts have a consistent “bad” LDL cholesterol-lowering effect, especially in individuals with high cholesterol and diabetes. They can help prevent damage from forming within artery walls and protect against dangerous cholesterol plaque buildup, in addition to fighting weight gain and obesity.
3. Chia Seeds and Flaxseeds
Flaxseed’s benefits extend to being the richest source of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). They also rank number one in terms of providing hormone-balancing lignans. Both chia and flaxseeds are extremely high in soluble and insoluble fiber, which can support detoxification and gut health and help with weight loss.
The soluble fiber content helps trap fat and cholesterol in the digestive system so that it is unable to be absorbed. Bile is then excreted through the digestive system, forcing the body to make more, using up excess cholesterol in the blood and lowering cholesterol overall. Use some seeds on your oatmeal, yogurt, in baked goods or blended into smoothies.
4. Olive Oil
Olive oil Benefits include being another anti-inflammatory ingredient that’s full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which lower LDL cholesterol. Use extra virgin olive oil to make homemade salad dressings, add some to sauces, or use it as a flavor-boosting ingredient for stir-fries or marinades.
Avocados are one of the world’s greatest sources of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, the type that can help raise HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL. Avocados also contain high levels of soluble fiber and stabilize blood sugar levels, in addition to supplying anti-inflammatory phytochemicals such as beta-sitosterol, glutathione and lutein. Besides making guacamole, get creative with these avocado recipes and add it to smoothies, salads, eggs or even desserts.
As one of the world’s best sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, the nutrition of salmon is also valuable because it’s linked to lower rates of heart disease, cognitive disorders, depression and many other conditions. Other sources of omega-3 fatty acidsinclude fatty fish like sardines, mackerel and herring. All can help raise good cholesterol while also supporting a healthy weight and better brain function.
7. Gluten-Free Whole Grains/Ancient Grains
One hundred percent whole grains are tied to better heart health, mostly because they are a great source of fiber. However, because gluten is a common sensitivity and can promote inflammation, I recommend focusing on gluten-free grains like quinoa, rolled oats, buckwheat and amaranth. These tend to be easier to digest, can be used in all the same ways as wheat or wheat flour, and provide plenty of nutrients, too. Oats, for example, contain a compound called beta-glucan, a substance that absorbs cholesterol.
8. Green Tea
Green tea is considered the number-one beverage for anti-aging. Not only is it a rich source of cancer-fighting antioxidants, it’s also supportive for heart health since it prevents LDL cholesterol levels from rising. Epidemiological studies suggest that drinking green tea can help reduce atherosclerosis and risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation in arthritis cases, and also improve bone density and brain function.
9. Beans and Legumes
Beans are known for packing in fiber, which slows the rate and amount of absorption of cholesterol. They also contain antioxidants and certain beneficial trace minerals that support healthy circulation. Try nutritious black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, mung beans and other varieties in soup, salads and, of course, hummus!
Consider turmeric the king of all spices when it comes to fighting inflammation. Turmeric benefits include lowering cholesterol, preventing clots, fighting viruses, killing free radicals, increasing immune health, balancing hormones and more. Turmeric contains the active ingredient called curcumin, which has been studied in regards to protection against numerous inflammatory diseases including heart disease, cancer, ulcerative colitis, arthritis and more.
Garlic is one of the most well-researched heart healthy ingredients there is. For example, the benefits of raw garlic has been shown to reverse disease because of its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antidiabetic and immune-boosting properties! Garlic has been found to lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure and protect against infections, so use some every day however you can, whether in sauces, soups, roasted veggies or marinades.
12. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes provide a good dose of filling, artery-sweeping fiber in addition to loads of vitamins and antioxidants. They’re also low in calories, low on the glycemic index (which means that they won’t spike your blood sugar) and high in potassium.