17 Cholesterol-Lowering Foods to Add to Your Diet Today

Medically Reviewed on 7/11/2022
17 Cholesterol-Lowering Foods to Add to Your Diet Today
Here are 17 foods that can help lower your cholesterol levels

High cholesterol is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. When it comes to lowering your cholesterol, it is important to avoid foods high in saturated fat and eat foods high in fiber and unsaturated fat.

Here are 17 foods that can help lower your cholesterol levels.

17 foods that lower cholesterol

1. Oats

Oats are high in beta-glucans, a soluble fiber that helps lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that eating 2 servings of oats per day can reduce LDL levels by 5.3% in just 6 weeks.

2. Barley

Like oats, barley is rich in beta-glucans and can help lower bad cholesterol levels.

3. Nuts

Nuts are high in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for lowering cholesterol. Nuts are also rich in other nutrients such as fiber, protein, minerals, and antioxidants that are beneficial for your heart.

4. Chia seeds

Chia seeds contain soluble fiber, which helps remove cholesterol from the body. The omega-3 fatty acid content can also help reduce the level of dangerous triglycerides.

5. Fatty fish

According to a study, substituting saturated fats with omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fatty fish, can increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol by up to 4% as well as reduce bad cholesterol levels.

6. Beans

Beans are rich in fiber, protein, and minerals, which have a protective effect on the heart. Studies have shown that eating ½ cup of beans a day can help lower LDL cholesterol levels.

7. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants such as flavonoids that help increase good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol. Dark chocolate may also help lower the risk of atherosclerosis, which is a condition in which the walls of the arteries harden.

8. Avocados

Avocados are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which increase HDL cholesterol and decrease LDL cholesterol in the body. Avocados contain the beta-sitosterol, which decreases the amount of cholesterol absorbed from foods.

9. Spinach

Spinach contains lutein, a chemical that protects against age-related macular degeneration. Studies have found that eating ½ cup of lutein-rich food a day lowers the risk of heart attack by preventing arterial walls from clogging and inhibiting cholesterol deposition.

10. Broccoli

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels due to their lutein and antioxidant content 

11. Carrots

Carrots are high in carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, which are potent antioxidants. Carrots are also rich in fiber and other nutrients that are good for reducing bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

12. Soy

Studies have suggested that consuming soybeans and other soy products such as edamame and tofu may help reduce risk factors for heart disease, especially if you have high cholesterol.

13. Fruits and berries

Most fruits, including apples, grapes, and citrus fruits, are high in pectin, which is a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL cholesterol. Berries are also high in antioxidants such as polyphenols, which help protect the heart against free radicals and oxidative stress.

14. Extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is an excellent source of heart-healthy MUFAs, which help reduce LDL levels and have protective effects on the heart.

15. Garlic

Garlic has been shown to help prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure, and defend against infection. Garlic appears to help prevent artery-clogging plaque in its early stages by preventing cholesterol particles from adhering to arterial walls.

16. Turmeric

Turmeric has been shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol levels in the blood due to the presence of curcumin.

17. Tea

Green or black tea is high in antioxidants and beneficial compounds such as catechins and quercetin, which are important for maintaining healthy blood pressure, improving blood vessel function, and boosting overall heart health.

What foods to avoid on a low-cholesterol diet

In addition to adding cholesterol-lowering foods to your diet, it is important to avoid foods that can raise cholesterol levels, such as:

  • Red meat: Red meat such as beef, pork, and lamb, are high in saturated fats that can promote cholesterol accumulation in your arteries.
  • Processed foods: Processed foods tend to be high in salt, trans fats, and saturated fats, which can raise your LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Sugar: Sugar has a negative effect on heart health and can also impact your cholesterol levels.

What are examples of a low-cholesterol diet?

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)

The DASH diet emphasizes heart-healthy foods, such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy 
  • Lean protein, such as chicken and fish

The Mediterranean diet

General guidelines for the Mediterranean diet are as follows:

  • Foods to eat regularly:
    • Fruits and vegetables
    • Seeds and nuts
    • Legumes
    • Potatoes
    • Whole grains
    • Fish
    • Seafood
    • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Foods to eat in moderation:
    • Poultry
    • Eggs
    • Yogurt
    • Cheeses
  • Foods to limit:
    • Red meat
    • Processed meat
    • Added sugars
    • Highly processed foods


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Medically Reviewed on 7/11/2022
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Harvard Health Publishing. 11 foods that lower cholesterol. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/11-foods-that-lower-cholesterol

WebMD. Foods to Help Lower LDL (‘Bad’) Cholesterol. https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/ss/slideshow-cholesterol-lowering-foods

Piedmont Healthcare. 5 foods that can lower your cholesterol naturally. https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/5-foods-that-can-lower-your-cholesterol-naturally

American Heart Association. Cooking to Lower Cholesterol. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/prevention-and-treatment-of-high-cholesterol-hyperlipidemia/cooking-to-lower-cholesterol