The New Low-Cholesterol Diet: Overview

Tasty, functional foods help you lower cholesterol naturally

By R. Morgan Griffin
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Cynthia Haines, MD

We all know that what we eat affects our cholesterol levels. But most of the time, we hear about the foods that make cholesterol worse -- like fatty meats, ice cream, and butter -- and how we need to eat less of them.

Here's some good news. To lower your cholesterol, you can actually eat more of certain foods. A handful of some "functional foods" have been shown to make a big impact on your cholesterol levels. They're also much tastier than a pill chased with a glass of water.

"These foods may not be magic, but they're close to it," says Ruth Frechman, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Researchers have found that some foods -- such as fatty fish, walnuts, oatmeal and oat bran, soy protein, and foods fortified with plant sterols or stanols -- can help control your cholesterol. Studies have even shown that a diet combining some of these "superfoods" may work as well as medicines in lowering your "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.

How strong is the evidence? The FDA has reviewed the research on each of these five foods, and given them the status of a "health claim" for managing cholesterol.

This is great news for the 105 million adults in the U.S. with high cholesterol. Making good food choices is an easy way of improving your health. It also puts less strain on your pocketbook. A trip to the grocery store is bound to be cheaper than a trip to the pharmacy. Also, many people can't handle the side effects from cholesterol drugs. Focusing on diet gives us all a new option.