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Thirteen is definitely a lucky number for us today. We have hand-picked the top 13 super foods to lower cholesterol so we can save you the time for searching, improve your health condition and, all in all, make your life a lot easier.
Nowadays, high cholesterol is one of the main causes for heart attacks, as a result of coronary heart disease. In medical terms, the condition is known as hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipidemia or dyslipidemia. The three main reasons why people end up developing this condition are diet, exercise and weight. Obviously, all these three of these can be worked on; all you need is patience, determination and the will to let us help you help yourself. How? Check out our thirteen recommendations for lowering cholesterol below and make the right nutritional decisions for you.
1. Oats, oats and oats!
Oat bran, oatmeal, barley and other foods high in fiber are exactly what you’re looking for. They’re easy to find, easy to buy and will make a visible difference in your condition. The reason is that oat-based foods contain soluble fiber, a key factor for reducing LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Lower yours by consuming anywhere from five to ten grams or even more of soluble fiber every day and you’ll feel an improvement in just 6 weeks. It might be the time to start altering your breakfast habits. Stock up on oatmeal!
2. Fatty fish?
Let’s get that Omega-3! Consuming fatty fish helps you naturally reduce your cholesterol and avoid future heart problems. Why? The high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in various types of fatty fish are known to lower blood pressure and prevent blood clot development. At least two dishes containing fish per week should do the trick; the best recommendations are: Albacore tuna, Halibut, Herring, Lake trout, Mackerel, Salmon or Sardines. Medical specialists advise baking or grilling the fish so no other fats that could harm your health remain. Although omega-3 supplements exist on the market, we still encourage people facing bad cholesterol to consume fish, as they contain many other nutrients, like selenium. Better listen to the dr!
3. Go nuts for nuts!
Peanuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts and pistachios are just a few types of nuts that help bad cholesterol. If you consume around one hand (a little over 42 grams or about 1.5 ounces) of salt-free and sugar-free nuts a day, you may indeed prevent heart attacks and various cardio-related illnesses. Aside from the fact that they serve as a delicious snack for when you’re craving a treat, they have proven to lower total cholesterol by a wonderful 5.4% after being consumed one month, 6 days out of 7. Walnuts are certainly on the top of our nutty list, as they maintain the health of blood vessels thanks to their high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
4. Beans are best
Super rich in soluble fiber, beans can work wonders like the Wizard of Oz. Their high level of fiber has proven to actually “slow the rate and amount of absorption of cholesterol in certain foods”, according to Prevention.com. If you eat one cup containing any kind of beans every day, you literally have the chance of reducing your cholesterol by even 10% in around six weeks. The best choices of beans for people with bad cholesterol are black, butter, chickpea, kidney, navy or pinto. Try varying your selection of side dishes for meals and adding more beans. Your heart will thank you for it in the long run.
5. Out with butter, in with margarine!
Plant sterols, my friend! They’re a life savior. Plant sterols are known to genuinely lower cholesterol if smartly incorporated in your diet, seeing as they seemingly do not change levels of triglycerides. Luckily enough, we can find them in at least two types of margarine, such as Benecol or Take Control, both recommended by the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program. Even more so, the latter brand has demonstrated reducing high cholesterol as much as 14%. The next time you’re tempted to buy butter from the supermarket, you should avoid it and opt for trying margarine instead.
6. Ward off cholesterol with garlic
You have already noticed that we’re not superstitious, so you can forget about any vampire scares. We’re talking about using garlic to protect your heart (and soul, of course) from any unwanted, evil cholesterol spirits. Not kidding! Besides the fact that garlic makes any meal infinitely more delicious, it has proven to be the perfect soldier to fight off high cholesterol. Moreover, garlic lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of blood clots AND works to keep your body away from nasty infections. With a huge history vouching for it, garlic consumed daily can truly make a difference. Be gone, bad cholesterol!
7. Olive oil is outstanding
Now even though olive oil isn’t actually a super food, it can be used to alter your diet and create great alternatives for your former unhealthy choices. It’s really easy to find, being virtually available at almost any super market near you. This type of oil is rich in MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), which (you guessed it) have proven to reduce cholesterol. It is reported that by consuming roughly two tablespoons of olive oil each day you can radically improve your diet and take better care of your heart. Just pour a bit over your salad at lunch or use it to marinate that roast you’re getting ready to fix up tonight for dinner.
8. As strong as Popeye
Remember when we were young and our parents tricked us into eating spinach by watching Popeye? Well now we finally understand why. Aside from being a super healthy vegetable as it is, spinach is the super hero that conquers macular degeneration (known to cause blindness when aging). It’s stocked up with loads of the lutein pigment, so if you eat around half a cup of spinach a day, you can protect your body from any scary heart attacks. Let’s not forget that adding more veggies in your diet will help you lose weight, as well. You might not grow huge biceps like Popeye, but you’ll definitely have a way stronger body that’s able to fight off a wide variety of diseases.
9. Amazing avocado
Another super hero secret you can apply to avoid high LDL but raise HDL at the same time is avocado. This extremely yummy fruit is #1 on the list owing to its high amount of beta-sitosterol, more than any other fruit you could imagine. You can use avocados in a great number of appetizing recipes, like mashed with baked sweet potatoes, in a delicious salad with pineapples and other goodies or popped into the blender with banana, kale leaves, orange juice and honey. This should get your mouth watering already.
10. Be smart, use soya
From desserts, milk, meat alternatives, nuts, beans, yogurt and tofu, soya foods have been proved to quickly help out your cholesterol problems without needing to eat great quantities. According to research in the area, soya can provide about 6% more low cholesterol, as long as you consume just 15 grams in your daily meals. Before you judge soya as being typical for extreme diets and lifestyles, just take into consideration the positive effects it can have on your heart. It’s worth it.
11. Eggplant is extraordinary
Searching for a super food to lower cholesterol fast? Eggplant is what you have been looking for. A beautifully colored vegetable, eggplant has proved making magic in less than four weeks. You can juice it and enjoy a refreshing beverage or use it in your dishes. It can be prepared and served in a various amount of ways, whether grilled, stuffed, roasted or spread on toast for some delicious brochettes. If you stock up on one eggplant per week, we guarantee that you will see some improvements soon.
12. You can never go wrong with these fruits
Ah, fruits. The heavenly healthy treats we love, love, love snacking on all the time. It’s good that they don’t harm our bodies and it’s even greater that quite a few types of fruit help battle high cholesterol. Grapes, apples, strawberries as well as a wide range of citrus fruits don’t contain a lot of saturated fat and can therefore improve your health condition. They are also rich in soluble fiber, so they radically assist in lowering cholesterol levels, as we mentioned above.
13. Saving the best for last… Chocolate
Last but certainly not least we have… chocolate! Finally, a sweet guilty pleasure we can fit into our diet and enjoy while staying healthy. But before you get too excited, know that bittersweet or dark chocolate help the most, as they contain 3 times more antioxidants than milk chocolate. That doesn’t mean that milk chocolate isn’t great; it actually contains as many antioxidants as a glass of refreshing red wine. What a lovely way to protect your heart!
Bonus: drink recommendations
So there they are – the top 13 natural super foods to lower cholesterol. But wait… what about some super drinks to enjoy with your meals? I will let you know that tea (hot or iced, especially black) and red wine (preferably Rioja, owing to the red Tempranillo grapes that are rich in fiber) are great for drinking and protecting your cholesterol levels.
Let’s raise a glass to your health. Start taking action and make the choice to care for your cholesterol. Cheers!