11 Foods That Lower Cholesterol Naturally

If your numbers just aren't going down, adding these tasty foods can help.

June 16, 2017
vegetables
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If you're already eating plenty of the following foods that lower cholesterol naturally, keep up the good work!  

(Start eating real food and never go on a pesky diet again with Rodale's Eat Clean, Lose Weight, And Love Every Bite, clean eating with zero deprivation.)

But if your idea of eating well is to opt for the buttered popcorn instead of the extra buttered popcorn, consider adding these healthy choices to your diet, and learn how to lose weight fast.

This article was originally published by our partners at Prevention.

oats
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Oats

If you're looking to lower your cholesterol, the key may be simply changing your morning meal. Switching up your breakfast to contain two servings of oats can lower LDL—bad—cholesterol by 5.3 percent in only six weeks. The key to this cholesterol buster is beta-glucan, a substance in oats that absorbs LDL, which your body then excretes. Banish bland oats with this dessert-worthy ginergersnap oatmeal recipe.

red wine
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Red Wine

Scientists are giving us yet another reason to drink to our health. It turns out that high-fiber Tempranillo red grapes, used to make red wine like Rioja, may actually significantly lower cholesterol levels. A study conducted by the department of metabolism and nutrition at Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain found that when individuals consumed the same grape supplement found in red wine, their LDL levels decreased by 9 percent. In addition, those who had high cholesterol going into the study saw a 12 percent drop in LDL. So go ahead and drink a glass for that cholesterol-lowering benefit.

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salmon
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Salmon + Fatty Fish

Omega-3 fats are one of the natural health wonders of the world and have been shown to ward off heart disease, dementia, and many other diseases. Now these fatty acids can add yet another health benefit to their repertoire: lowering cholesterol. According to research from Loma Linda University, replacing saturated fats with omega-3s like those found in salmon, sardines, and herring can raise good cholesterol as much as 4 percent. (Here's everything you need to know about buying the healthiest fish possible.)

Related: Are You At Risk For The #1 Cause Of Heart-Related Death?

nuts
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Nuts

If you're looking for a snack food that lowers cholesterol levels, research shows that you should get cracking! In a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who noshed on 1.5 ounces of whole walnuts six days a week for one month lowered their total cholesterol by 5.4 percent and LDL cholesterol by 9.3 percent. Almonds and cashews are other good options. However, while nuts are heart healthy, they're also high in calories, so practice portion control—1.5 ounce is about a shot glass and a half. Use a shot glass to measure out your portion so you can see exactly how it looks. (Here's what happens if you eat too many nuts.)

tea
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Tea

While tea has become well known for its cancer-fighting antioxidants, it is also a great defense against high LDL cholesterol levels. According to research conducted with the USDA, black tea has been shown to reduce blood lipids by up to 10 percent in only three weeks. These findings were concluded in a larger study of how tea may also help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. (Here's how to make the perfect cup of tea every time.)

Related: The Healthiest Teas To Drink From Morning To Night

 
 
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Beans

Beans, beans—they really are good for your heart. Researchers at Arizona State University Polytechnic found that adding ½ cup of beans to soup lowers total cholesterol, including LDL, by up to 8 percent. The key to this heart-healthy food is its abundance of fiber, which has been shown to slow the rate and amount of absorption of cholesterol in certain foods. Try black, kidney, or pinto beans; each supplies about ⅓ of your daily fiber needs.

chocolate
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Chocolate

Yes! This powerful antioxidant helps build HDL—good—cholesterol levels. In a 2007 study published in AJCN, participants who were given cocoa powder had a 24 percent increase in HDL levels over 12 weeks, compared with a 5 percent increase in the control group. Remember to choose the dark or bittersweet kind. Compared to milk chocolate, it has more than three times as many antioxidants, which prevent blood platelets from sticking together and may even keep arteries unclogged.

garlic
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Garlic

Aside from adding zing to almost any dish, garlic makes the list of foods that lower cholesterol; it's also been found to prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure, and protect against infections. Now research finds that it helps stop artery-clogging plaque at its earliest stage by keeping cholesterol particles from sticking to artery walls. Try for two to four fresh cloves a day.

 
 
olive oil
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Olive Oil

Good news: This common cooking ingredient can help your health. Olive oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which lower LDL cholesterol and have the welcome side effect of trimming belly fat. Use it to make your own salad dressings, marinate chicken and fish, or roast vegetables.

spinach
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Spinach

This popular green food contains lots of lutein, the sunshine-yellow pigment found in dark green leafy vegetables and egg yolks. Lutein already has a reputation for guarding against age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. Now research suggests that just ½ cup of a lutein-rich food daily also guards against heart attacks by helping artery walls shrug off cholesterol invaders that cause clogging. Look for bags of baby spinach leaves that you can use for salads or pop in the microwave for a quick side dish. 

Related: 3 Recipes To Take Your Love Of Spinach To A Whole New Level

avocado
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Avocado

Avocados are a great source of heart-healthy MUFAs, which may actually help raise HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL. And, more than any other fruit, this delectable food packs cholesterol-smashing beta-sitosterol—a beneficial plant-based fat that reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food. Since avocados are a bit high in calories and fat—300 calories and 30 grams of fat per avocado—use them in moderation. (We suggest these 8 unique and insanely tasty avocado recipes.)