What foods to lower cholesterol naturally?

What foods to lower cholesterol naturally?

High cholesterol is one of the major causes of heart disease, in fact more than 40% of the American population have high cholesterol, the figures show that 2.6 million people die each year in the USA from heart disease.

Too much cholesterol in the bloodstream causes a condition known as Atherosclerosis, this is a form of heart disease it happens when the arteries become narrow this has the effect of slowing down the blood flow going to the heart. LDL or bad cholesterol is responsible in the main for blockages in the arteries.

Knowing what causes high cholesterol and how to lower cholesterol naturally should be a high priority for those people. It’s a well-known fact that eating the wrong foods contributes to high cholesterol, by managing your diet you can control your cholesterol levels, so what foods to lower cholesterol naturally?


Baked potato: A baked potato is a great way to help lower your cholesterol, not only are potatoes delicious, versatile and nutritious but they also contain fiber (soluble and insoluble) a medium potato unskinned contains a little under 5 grams of fiber, the majority of the fiber is in the potato skin. 

Scientific studies show bile acids bind to the soluble fiber, these compounds help with digestion and lower cholesterol in the body.High fiber foods are generally good fro our health, they can also lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation in the body.Foods rich in fiber can also slow down the speed at which sugar is absorbed into our bodies stabilizing blood sugar levels after consuming food.


Oatmeal:  Oatmeal is made from hulled oat grains, it is a type of course flour that has been rolled, steel cut or milled, ground oats are known as white oats, steel oats are called Irish oatmeal, coarse oatmeal or pinhead oats.

An oatmeal breakfast is one way of reducing cholesterol because it has soluble fiber in it, soluble fiber lowered the bad cholesterol LDL, another benefit of soluble fiber it can reduce how cholesterol is absorbed into your blood. 

 

A serving of oatmeal breakfast cereal or oat bran will provide 3-4 grams of fiber, add a little fruit and increase the amount of soluble fiber to your diet.


 Barley: Barley is full of antioxidants and vitamins, it also contains beta-glucan an important fiber, important because it is good for your heart and it lowers cholesterol, beta-glucan is also found in oats, beta-glucan works to reduce cholesterol absorption and fats into your bloodstream.

Studies of barley have shown that by taking approximately 3-10 grams of beta-glucan per day may help to lower cholesterol by between 14-20 percent.

The same studies also showed that the bad cholesterol LDL was reduced between 3-24 percent, triglycerides were reduced by 6-16 percent.

Did it work for everyone in the study? No results will vary from individual to individual.


Avocado: Fatty acids boost your good cholesterol HDL and lower your bad cholesterol LDL, the Journal of the American Heart association published a study in 2015 that showed by eating 1 avocado each day whilst following a moderate fat diet plan corresponded with an amazing 13.5 mg/dl reduction in LDL or bad cholesterol.

There was a reduction in total cholesterol and triglycerides the study concluded. Avocado snack tip:

 

Watch your portion size because avocados per cup has 235 calories, try half an avocado with tomato, lettuce, onion in a wholegrain pita bread, add a tablespoon of your favorite hummus with a drop of lemon!


 

Apple: “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away”

Professor Bahram J. Arjmandi and his colleagues at the Department of Nutrition Florida State University conducted a 12 month trial involving women who consumed 75 grams of dried apples each day for 6 months, the results showed a 23% reduction in LDL cholesterol, at the end of the 12 month period it was noted that the women had lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and lipid hydroperoxide. This was significant because lipid hydroperoxide causes damage to the body’s cells so a reduction there was welcome, the studies also showed a reduction in C-reactive protein which indicates less inflammation in the body. The researchers also reported that even though the women were taking on extra calories (240) eating the apples each day no weight gain was found, rather the opposite an average of 3.3 lbs was recorded. A dietitian Keri Gans, (American Heart Association) stated that they would have gotten the same results with fresh apples.


Banana: A lot of people eat bananas because they are a good fill me up, each banana contains 89 calories and are very low in fat with zero percent cholesterol.

 A banana contains 10% dietary fiber or 2.6 grams but it also contains 12 grams of sugar so eating too many wouldn’t be good for the waistline!

 

 

A banana may help in a small way to lower cholesterol as part of a balanced diet.



Tomato: According to a study eating tomatoes as part of a controlled diet will help to lower cholesterol, the study was done on 21 healthy people who were given 400 mg of tomato juice & 30 Milligrams of tomato sauce each day. 

 

Total cholesterol was reduced by 5.9 (SD 10) % and the bad cholesterol LDL was reduced by 12.9 (SD 17.0) %. 

 

 

The researchers concluded that a diet high in tomato products can protect our cardiovascular system by reducing LDL bad cholesterol in a significant way and increased the blood vessels resistance to oxidation.


Raspberry: All types of berries are good to add to your diet, the raspberry is full of nutrients, 8 grams of dietary fiber, 54% of your daily vitamin C needs and one cup full has just 64 calories.

 We know that a high soluble fiber diet can reduce LDL by 1% take anywhere between 1-2 grams each day of soluble fiber, one cup of raspberries is equal to one gram. 

Raspberries are a very good way to reduce cholesterol, 4.4 % sugars, and 28% of dietary fiber, they also contain Vitamin A, E, & C, Vitamin C is particularly helpful because it boosts your immune system, it helps to generate more nitric oxide, lowers triglycerides while preventing free radical damage.


Tuna: Tuna fish are an ideal way to lower your cholesterol three ounces of tuna (canned in water) contains 16.5 gms of protein, not even one gram of fat, and a tiny 31 mgs of cholesterol. Tuna fish is a good source of iron, vitamin b-6, B12, Niacin, there are no trans fats or hydrogenated oils, the fact that tuna is low in saturated fats makes it a food that you can consume knowing that you are getting your RDA of 11-22 percent of your Omega-3 fatty acids, these fatty acids are known to reduce heart disease. Tuna fish comes in oil and water, don’t worry about buying it in oil because it is low in saturated fats.



Cabbage Kale: Cabbage although not everybody’s favourite is an excellent food to add to your cholesterol lowering diet, it is part of the same family (Brassica) that includes kale, cauliflower and broccoli. Cabbage is bursting with vitamins and minerals and it boasts many health benefits, in fact one cup of cabbage contains;

Protein 1 gm,Vitamin K RDI 85%,Potassium RDI 4%,Vitamin B6 RDI 6%

Magnesium RDI 3%,Folate RDI 10%,Fibre 2 gms,Calcium RDI 4%

Vitamin C RDI 54%,Fiber 2 gms,Manganese RDI 7%

Cabbage is also high in fiber and it has polyphenols & sulphur compounds combined are powerful antioxidants. Cabbage has anthocyanins these anti-inflammatories protect the body against heart disease and free radical damage.


Sweet potato: Sweet potato is another food that can help with your cholesterol, rich in water soluble fiber and nutrition.

The fiber sticks to bile acids helping your body to excrete cholesterol. Sweet potato is the 6th largest food crop frown around the world, the skin may be red, purple, brown or white, the flesh may be purple, orange, yellow or white.

 

The sweet potato contains absolutely no fat or cholesterol whatsoever,12% dietary fibre and 4.2% fat, Vitamins A 283%, Vitamin C 4%, Calcium 3%, Iron 3%, Vitamin B6 10% and Magnesium 6%.


Soya bean:
The soya bean or soyabean is grown mainly in East Asia, it is a species of the legume and is used in a lot of food dishes. The soya bean is versatile it is used as soy milk, tofu and tofu skin is made from soyabeans, then you have soy sauce, natto and fermented bean paste.

Does it lower your cholesterol? Maybe, however by eating soya-based foods you may reduce your cholesterol slightly especially the LDL or bad cholesterol.

 

Soy based foods don’t have as much saturated fats, they do have good fats such as vitamins, minerals & fiber.


Fiber: Fiber works by attaching itself to the cholesterol particles stopping them from going into your bloodstream and travelling to the rest of your body.

There are two types of fiber soluble and insoluble, soluble fiber will only work to lower your LDL or bad cholesterol, in fact the benefits are small to negligible. It isn’t as effective in lowering your triglycerides and boosting your good cholesterol HDL.

The most recent studies on LDL cholesterol showed that by eating 30 gms per day of soluble fiber LDL cholesterol decreased by 18%. Soluble fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.


Tofu: Tofu is gluten free and made from soybean curds, it is low in calories and is full of iron and calcium. Tofu has no cholesterol and is a good source of protein, it contains phytoestrogens (isoflavones) and may help to protect against osteoporosis, heart disease and some cancers. 

One block of tofu contains 177 calories, it may offer relief for menopause symptoms and lower LDL or bad cholesterol by consuming it instead of animal protein.

Tofu can be incorporated into your diet you will need to take at least 25 gms of tofu daily to influence your LDL cholesterol.It may not reduce the triglycerides or raise the good cholesterol HDL.



Pecan nut: Pecan nuts contain high amounts of unsaturated fats, this has the effect of lowering your LDL cholesterol, the FDA have recognized nuts like pecan as being heart healthy because of their ability to reduce the risk of heart disease.

 

Additionally, pecan nuts are high in fiber and phytosterols, both have been shown to lower LDL in studies. 

During the studies on healthy people with high cholesterol the daily amount given was 1.5- 2 ounces of pecans each day approximately a handful, rather than eat snack foods like chips or crackers why not try eating pecan nuts?


Walnuts: Walnuts are an attractive alternative to lower cholesterol according to research from Yale University. They conducted a study of 112 people whose age ranged from 25- 75 they were divided into two groups; both were given two ounces of walnuts each day along with whatever other food they fancied. 

Results were measured over a period of six months where cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels were measured. 

 

The results showed that by eating walnuts total and bad cholesterol levels fell significantly, even though walnuts contain sugar weight gain wasn’t an issue. The levels of blood pressure and blood sugar was not affected.


Lentils: According to the Daily Healthy New 2014 by eating lentils, beans and other legumes may help to cut down on bad LDL cholesterol while at the same time lowering your risk of a heart attack or stroke. 

 

 

 

 

In a study of 1,000 people where each was given a daily serving of three quarters of a cup of legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans and peas) the results pointed to a reduction in low density protein LDL of 5%.


Salmon: Salmon is a fatty fish just like sardines, tuna, trout and mackerel, but don’t let that term put you off eating salmon, in fact fatty fish like salmon are full of Omega-3 fatty acids these are the good fats that help to lower cholesterol.

So fish should be in your weekly menu. How does it help? Omega 3 fatty acids lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol by slowing down the plaque build-up in your blood vessels, they also reduce inflammation in the arteries. 

 

Research has shown that by getting the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids could reduce triglyceride levels by as much as 25 to 30 %, (The American Journal of Nutrition 1997)


Blueberries: We don’t have a lot of studies on blueberries and its effect on cholesterol however blueberries have a lot of healthy chemicals they may lower cholesterol. one study found that pterostilbene in blueberries which is a protein may reduce lipids in the blood like cholesterol lowering lipid medication. 

Blueberries also contain anthocyanin; this antioxidant has been proved in studies to lower LDL oxidation. 

 

 

Phytosterols are also present in blueberries, some small studies have shown phytosterols effective at reducing LDL levels.




Quinoa: Quinoa is a very popular choice when it comes to heart health, it’s not hard to see why, quinoa is complete protein, it can be consumed for breakfast, it gives you balance and fills you up, one up is equal to 15% protein. Quinoa also regulates your blood sugars by reducing the speed at which complex carbohydrates convert into sugar.

Quinoa is good for bone growth, it also contains 9 essential amino acids, necessary for the building of muscle tissue and metabolic enzymes. 

A 2010 study on rats with high cholesterol found that by feeding the rats quinoa following a high fructose diet to raise their cholesterol levels the cholesterol levels started to reverse and go back to normal levels.


Almonds: Let’s look at the scientific evidence of studies on almonds effect on blood lipids, there are many of these studies on people that have high cholesterol, the participants were given 20-168 grams of almonds per day to add to their diets or to replace some other protein in the diet. 

 

This works out to the about 1-6 handfuls of almonds per day, looking at the latest results the LDL levels were reduced by between 4 and 35 % a huge difference I agree, whereas total cholesterol levels were reduced by 3-25 %.

 

So, by eating more almonds will your cholesterol lower? the results are a bit mixed, so the jury is out on that one.


Olives: Olives are good for your heart and your cholesterol because of the antioxidant nutrients in the olives, these antioxidant nutrients slow the oxidation of cholesterol meaning less damage to the blood vessels and less chance of heart disease. 

 

 

Olives do have fat in them but it’s the healthy type or monounsaturated, monounsaturated fats have been found to lessen the risk of atherosclerosis and increase levels of good cholesterol.


Spinach: Spinach a leafy green has large amounts of lutein, lutein is a pigment in vegetables shown to keep cholesterol away from the arteries so eat more spinach! Spinach is another great source of cholesterol lowering fiber.

Most dark green vegetables are good for your heart, but spinach and kale have lutein and other cartenoids, these are known to decrease your risk of heart disease. They are full of antioxidants that get rid of the harmful free radicals and the damage that they cause.

 

Dark leafy vegetables lower cholesterol by binding to the bile acids making the body get rid of more cholesterol.



Grapes: According to a report presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society grapes have been found to just as effective as cholesterol lowering drugs because of a compound called pterostilbene contained in the grape. 

This information was connected to a study on rat’s liver cells where the grapes compound pterostilbene had the same effect on LDL cholesterol as the popular cholesterol lowering drugs like Ciprofibrate, Loped and Tricor.

Grapes are very versatile, they are a fruit from the berry family,are grown from the flowering plant genus Vitus. Eating fresh grapes is so delicious, you can use them to make wine, juice, jam, raisins,vinegar,jelly, or just eat them with cheese.


Corn oil: Corn oil is a rich source of unsaturated fatty acids, corn oil is thought to lower LDL lipoprotein cholesterol, it doesn’t contain cholesterol and is 3 times more likely to lower cholesterol than for example olive oil, however it may increase inflammation in the arteries because it is associated with LDL oxidation.Corn oil is refined vegetable oil it is used for cooking, especially for deep fried food, ir is also used to make cosmetics. A 21 day study of the effects of corn oil on 54 mean and women showed that by giving each participant 4 tablespoons of corn and four tablespoons of olive oil. The results were amazing Corn oil reduced LDL cholesterol by 11%, olive oil wasn’t as good the reduction was only 3.5%. Total cholesterol decreased by 8.2% with corn oil and olive oil was 1.8%.


Pistachio nuts: The pistachio nut is part of the cashew nut family, it comes from a small tree growing in Central Asia and parts of the middle east, the tree produces pistachio nuts that are very popular as a snack food. Pistachio nuts contain Vitamin B1, Potassium, Phytosterols, Magnesium, Vitamin B6. Most of the studies on pistachio nuts showed that by eating roughly 2 handfuls per day can increase the levels of the good cholesterol or HDL, in some cases up to 15%.

There were no changes in the LDL or triglycerides.

 

 

Pistachio nuts are very tasty, fun to eat if you don’t mind cracking them open!

 

 

 

Pistachio contain several excellent nutrients, good for a healthy heart, weight loss and gut health.


 Cherries: Cherries contain Sodium 3 mg 0%, Potassium 173 mg 4%, total carbohydrate 12 grams 4%, Dietary fiber 3.6 grams 6%, Vitamin A 26%, Vitamin C 16%, Magnesium 2%. all cherries are a rich source of antioxidants plus other nutrients. Cherries contain the compound phytosterols this lowers cholesterol levels and boosts the immune system. 

 

Cherries are an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, they contain fiber so by adding them to your diet you will receive almost 10% of the RDA of fiber. Cherries contain potassium, this is beneficial for to keep your heart and kidneys working effectively. Cherries contain melatonin which has been proven to help with sleep.


Pumpkin: Did you know that by including pumpkin in your weekly diet you can:

Lower your bad LDL cholesterol

Prevent heart disease

Improve your eyesight and immune system

Improve your fiber intake

Pumpkin seeds contain plant sterols good for lowering cholesterol, a pumpkin contains Vitamin A one cup will give you the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A necessary for good eyesight and you’re a good immune system, a pumpkin contains potassium and antioxidants necessary for heart disease prevention.


Dark chocolate: Believe it or not dark chocolate is good for your heart, but only in a small amount, some studies have shown that flavonoid rich cocoa (contained in chocolate) actually lowered LDL cholesterol moreover it raided the good HDL cholesterol, on the downside be careful not to eat too much chocolate as it is high in calories.

 

 

Dark chocolate comes from the seed of the cocoa tree,it is an excellent source of antioxidants.Studies on dark chocolate and I’m not talking about the stuff that you can buy in a shop (that is full of sugar) can lower your risk of heart disease and improve your health.


 

Pomegranate: The pomegranate is a sun loving deciduous tree shrub from the Lyrhraceae family, it grows 5-10 metres in height and bears fruit from September-February in the Northern Hemisphere and from March-May in the Southern Hemisphere. But can the pomegranate lower cholesterol? 

 

Studies are hard to find but the ones that I did find seem to suggest that drinking pomegranate juice may lower cholesterol, pomegranate juice contains antioxidants, the best of these are the polyphenols, these are thought to reduce LDL or low density protein.



Plums: Dried plums just like dried prunes can lower cholesterol levels in a natural way, the soluble fiber in both help with LDL bad cholesterol reduction by effecting the absorption of cholesterol from your diet.

 

 

 

It does this by binding the bile acids and removing them from the body, these acids are made by your liver from the cholesterol. When these bile acids are gone from the body your liver must produce more of them from the cholesterol. In this way cholesterol is reduced.


Final thought on what foods to lower cholesterol naturally.

It is important to get enough fiber into your diet, so from that point of view eat foods that you like containing fiber, antioxidants and phytosterols are also important so make sure you eat foods that contain these. Cabbage, cherries and pistachio nuts are good choices, part of your weekly food intake should include an exercise program exercise is the key to keeping weight down and to feeling healthy.




9 thoughts on “What foods to lower cholesterol naturally?”

  1. Thank you for this review on what foods lower cholesterol naturally. Thankfully I eat all of them from time to time, except corn oil, I prefer extra virgin olive oil. I hear coconut oil is even better. I was recently watching a video interview with Dr. Michael Farley and he said that cholesterol is not the primary cause of  atherosclerosis because it is a repair mechanism.

    Sugar, not the kind in fruits, is the primary cause of atherosclerosis because when we consume sugar our bodies secrete insulin. The insulin then creates cuts in the walls of our arteries and it is in these cuts that cholesterol collects to promote healing. However since there is refined sugar in almost everything we eat and drink, this repair process is on overdrive.

    So cholesterol is a good thing in small amounts but with that repair process on overdrive the cholesterol builds up before it can heal the arteries and thus reduce the flow of blood through that particular area. This is why using fruits, seeds, nuts and vegetables like the ones you mention here are absolutely vital in bringing down cholesterol in a natural way.

    Reply
    • Hi Robert,

      Thank you for your comments, you are well informed on the causes of high cholesterol and plaque build up in the arteries.

      Fintan

      Reply
  2. Good Morning Fintan,

    You offer some good tips in your article on how to lower cholesterol naturally.

    I have some avocado trees on the property and use them in smoothies, dips, salads, and also as a dessert

    Other fruits like apples, bananas and quite a big collection of different types of fruits are on my daily menu.

    I am looking forward to when the fig season starts in August. As the season only lasts for 2 months I am happy I found out you can freeze figs very well so I can eat them also in the winter and spring time.

    I must say I do not eat soy anymore because of GMO and nowadays I take coconut milk instead.

    Nuts, seeds, greens, your list is long. I eat most of it every day. The closer we eat to nature the healthier we will be.

    Regards, Taetske 

    Reply
  3. As I am getting older, I find myself paying more attention to my eating habits.  Since I come from a family that has a history of heart disease,  I was wanting to get some ideas about what kind of foods that I should eat to lower cholesterol natural.  I was surprised to see how many foods were on your list.   

    To me, it sounds as if we eat a variety of natural, unprocessed fruits and vegetables, we will not have too many problems finding food to eat that will lower cholesterol.    Fiber is important also.  I am glad that I like oatmeal.   I was thrilled to see baked potatoes on the list.  I really like baked potatoes and had never considered that they would be a food that would lower cholesterol naturally.    

    Thank you for taking the time to prepare this long list of foods.        

    Reply
    • Hi Sondra,

      I too come from a family with heart disease history, watching my cholesterol is something that I have to do. I’m glad you found the information helpful.

      Thanks

      Fintan

      Reply
  4. This is a discovery for me. I have been trying to avoid cholesterol for a while now. And all the information I got, suggested that avoiding certain oil, will help lower my cholesterol level. I did that but it is still quite high, I am so grateful that I found your post. 

    I am gonna increase my salad intake and include some nuts as you advise here. And hopefully, make it a habit to improve my cholesterol level. 

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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