10 Delicious Foods To Support Healthy Cholesterol Levels
In one of our first podcast episodes, Chief Scientific Officer and Pharmacist Jerry Hickey, Ph. discussed cholesterol and statins. As one of our most popular episodes, we wanted to expand on the topic of cholesterol and nutrition – offering you information on foods to include in your diet, according to numerous studies and journals.
Adding one avocado a day to a moderate-fat diet can lower LDL cholesterol by 13.5 mg/dL, according to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Li Wang, Ph.D., R.D., research associate at UC David reports, “Avocado is rich in monounsaturated fats, which could be used as a substitute for LDL-raising saturated fats. It is also rich in dietary fiber and plant sterols, which can decrease cholesterol absorption in the intestine and lower plasma cholesterol.”
According to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, when people ate two cups of strawberries a day for 30 days, their LDL levels fell by 13.72%, while HDL levels remained unchanged. This is because their high-fiber content gives them LDL-lowering properties. Researchers from Italy and Spain also report the anthocyanins in strawberries may also lower bad cholesterol (the pigments that give the fruit its red color).
University of Maryland assistant professor Pam Peeke, MD. says that foods that lower cholesterol are usually high in fiber. “But it’s the soluble fiber in particular that reduces the absorption of cholesterol.” Aim for 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber and 30 grams of total fiber each day. One cup of cooked oatmeal is about 6 grams of fiber, but adding toppings like a banana and blueberries will increase the fiber amount an extra 3 or 4 grams!
The Mediterranean diet has become widely popular; and for good reason! It’s packed with foods that have been shown to lower cholesterol. This includes extra virgin olive oil which is less processed and packed antioxidants. About two tablespoons a day have been shown to lower cholesterol, according to Peeke.
Fatty fish like salmon are packed with omega-3s. These are very important in the fight against high cholesterol. Replacing LDL-boosting saturated fats like red meat with a serving of fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, trout) two to three times a week will give you the most benefit.
Sterols are plant based chemicals that are found naturally in foods that help to absorb cholesterol in the gut. Studies show that consuming about 1.5 to 2.5 grams of sterols each day has been shown to reduce cholesterol by 7-10% over two to three weeks. Peeke explains that you can get sterols from whole foods like seeds, nuts, olive oil and whole grains, but if you need more a non-GMO dietary supplement can help.†
Yes! Chocolate has made the list. But grabbing a candy bar will not provide you with the antioxidants you need to support healthy cholesterol levels. They are processed and filled with sugar. Dark chocolate in its natural form contains flavonoids that have been shown to lower cholesterol, decrease blood pressure and lower blood sugar levels. “The higher percentage the less sugar, the more antioxidants and the more anti-inflammatory properties,’ says Peeke.†
Listen now! Studies Show Sterols Can Help Lower Cholesterol Levels – Invite Health Podcast, Episode 6 >>
Because of the omega-3s in flaxseed (a type of polyunsaturated fat), these are one of the most powerful foods that can support healthy cholesterol levels. Flaxseeds have been shown in numerous studies to support healthy blood vessel function, decrease inflammation and lower triglyceride levels.†
Dark leafy greens, especially collard greens, have been shown to lower cholesterol. According to Kate Weiler, author of Real Fit Kitchen and certified holistic health coach, “The greens bind to bile acids, which are made from cholesterol, and are excreted through the body.” She recommends one serving a day!
Last but certainly not least is garlic! Garlic has been shown to prevent bad cholesterol from building up in the arteries. Weiler also reports that garlic has been shown to lower blood pressure and recommends 1 gram per day.