10 Healthy Foods That Lower Cholesterol

Cholesterol and Your Heart Health

Heart Healthy Walnuts
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Having a high cholesterol level increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and heart attacks. Making lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity and losing weight can help lower your cholesterol.

As far as diet goes, start by eating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. Eat red meat less often and avoid added sugars and overly processed foods.

Now that's a great start. Also, you might be able to boost the cholesterol-lowering ability of your diet even more. Research studies indicate certain foods contain natural compounds that can reduce cholesterol, usually by lowering the LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) levels in your blood stream.

Take a look at our slide show featuring ten foods that can help lower your cholesterol. Just please remember these foods aren’t substitutes for cholesterol-lowering medications, and please speak to your health care provider before making any significant dietary changes.


Rolled oats will help lower cholesterol.
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Eating a diet rich in whole grains is associated with having healthier cholesterol levels. Oats contain a soluble fiber called beta-glucan. If you currently have high cholesterol levels, oats can lower cholesterol by as much as 20 percent. Oats and oatmeal are also an excellent source of minerals and protein.


Walnuts will help lower cholesterol.
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Walnuts are rich in both monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. Eating these nuts may be able to reduce cholesterol levels by around 15 percent, and may also improve blood vessel function and reduce inflammation. Walnuts are also an also an excellent source of vitamin E, minerals and B-complex vitamins.  

Healthy Ways to Eat Walnuts

Dry Beans

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Dry beans, such as kidney beans, navy beans, and black beans, are very high in fiber and plant proteins. Research indicates that adding beans to a diet can reduce cholesterol levels, as long as the overall calorie count is not increased. Beans are also high in B-complex vitamins and minerals.

Olive Oil

Olive oil will help lower cholesterol.
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Olive oil is probably the best-known source of monounsaturated fatty acids and can reduce cholesterol and inflammation. Olive oil should be included in a heart-healthy diet in place of saturated or trans fats. Use it for cooking or to make dressings for salads and veggies.


Almonds help reduce cholesterol.
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Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, minerals, B-complex vitamins, and vitamin E. Research shows regular consumption of almonds might reduce elevated cholesterol by nearly 20 percent. Almonds make a great snack or healthy topping for a salad or side dish.

Soy and Soy Foods

Soy foods reduce cholesterol.
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The protein in soy appears to have a beneficial impact on high cholesterol. Eating two servings of tofu, soy milk, or soybeans could reduce cholesterol levels by as much as five percent. Soy is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

Orange Juice

Orange juice can lower cholesterol.
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Orange juice is best known as a breakfast drink and source of vitamin C, but it's also high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin A and B-complex vitamins. One research study also found that drinking orange juice every day lowered cholesterol levels and suggested that orange juice might also be helpful for people who didn't have elevated cholesterol.

Learn More About Orange Juice


Sliced avocado in a bowl
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Avocado is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids and plant sterols that can help to reduce cholesterol. Research suggests that adding avocado to a heart-healthy diet can increase the cholesterol-lowering benefit. Avocado is also rich in protein, fiber, B-complex vitamins, vitamin K, and several minerals.

Salmon or Tuna

Salmon lowers cholesterol.
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Fatty ocean fish such as salmon and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids and can help reduce cholesterol levels, especially when you eat fish instead of saturated fats from red meats. Herring, trout and sardines are also high in omega-3s. Fish is also high in protein and minerals.


Lentils will lower cholesterol
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Lentils are high in fiber, and research suggests that adding lentils to a diet can reduce cholesterol levels as long as the overall calorie count is not increased. Lentils are also high in B-complex vitamins and minerals. They make a lovely addition to soup. Plus, unlike dry beans, lentils don't need to be soaked before cooking.

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Kris-Etherton PM. "Walnuts decrease risk of cardiovascular disease: a summary of efficacy and biologic mechanisms." J Nutr. 2014 Apr;144(4 Suppl):547S-554S. Accessed March 8, 2016. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/144/4/547S.long.

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United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. Accessed March 8, 2016.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search.

Wang L, Bordi PL, Fleming JA, Hill AM, Kris-Etherton PM. "Effect of a moderate fat diet with and without avocados on lipoprotein particle number, size and subclasses in overweight and obese adults: a randomized, controlled trial." J Am Heart Assoc. 2015 Jan 7;4(1). Accessed March 8, 2016. http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/4/1/e001355.abstract.

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