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30 Cholesterol-Fighting Foods You Need in Your Diet

Red Wine

Recent studies have shown that the high-fiber grapes that are used to make red wine can have a significant effect on cholesterol levels. Depending on how high your cholesterol is beforehand, you could see between a 9% to 12% drop in LDL cholesterol (according to researchers in Madrid) when regularly consuming wine that contains this type of red grape.

Cooking with red wine reduces the need for extra fat in your dishes. That's important because fat could contribute to a high LDL level!

Chocolate

In small doses, chocolate can serve as a powerful antioxidant. Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate has three times more antioxidants. This can help keep arteries from clogging, as well as increasing HDL cholesterol levels by up to 24%, according to research Tokyo's Ochanomizu University.

You can get creative with your chocolate instead of just eating a regular ol' candy bar. Chocolate tastes great when grated or shaved over a bowl of yogurt, pudding, or fruit slices. Plus, you'll feel a little extra special when eating it. 

Garlic

Eating three cloves of garlic daily can do wonders for your health, including lowering cholesterol, stopping blood clots, normalizing blood pressure, fighting infection, and promoting unclogged arteries. 

We suggest roasting a full head of garlic because nothing beats it as a standalone treat. Peel off the outer layers and trim off the top of a full head. Then, roast it with aluminum foil and a drizzle of olive oil. 

Beans

Beans are high in fiber and make a great addition to a low-cholesterol diet, especially black, pinto, and kidney varieties. In some cases, they can slow the rate at which cholesterol is absorbed by the body.

Beans don't have to be the main dish. They can play a delicious supporting role in salads or stir-fry. It'll help keep your LDL levels low and even add a bit of fiber to any dish. 

Oats

If your diet contains two servings of oats a day, you may be able to lower your LDL cholesterol by more than 5% in a little over a month, according to a study in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand. Oats contain beta-glucan, a substance that absorbs LDL cholesterol, making them a great addition to any meal. 

If you can't stand oatmeal but still want the benefits, you can add it to other dishes. Oatmeal works great in baked goods, smoothies, and pancakes. 

Green Tea

Green tea is a healthy alternative to soda, sports drinks, and other high-sugar beverages. Some studies have shown that it contains compounds that may help lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Green tea is delicious, but you don't have to drink it! You can grind up the dried tea leaves and add it to a dish like any other seasoning. The flavor is subtle and aromatic, but a great way to get the benefits. 

Olive Oil

Instead of using oil that's high in saturated fats, like canola or coconut, try olive oil instead. It's full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids that help to lower LDL cholesterol levels. 

If you're really looking to cut your cholesterol intake, substitute a teaspoon of olive oil and an egg white in your recipes that call for whole eggs.  

Salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your risk for heart disease and dementia, among other things. Additionally, this nutrient, which can be found in salmon, has been shown to raise HDL, or "good," cholesterol levels.

Salmon is extremely heart-healthy, but filets aren't everyone's thing. It may taste better for some if cooked into food, like substituting salmon for clam in clam chowder. 

Almonds

A first full of almonds has 9 grams of monounsaturated fats. These healthy fats have been proven to decrease LDL cholesterol by nearly 10%, according to Today Dietician. Almonds also have vitamin E on the skin to further halt the growth of cholesterol in the arteries.

Try sprinkling some sliced almonds in your morning cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt for an easy way to add them into your diet. You can also cook them in green beans with some dried cranberries. 

Avocados

Along with being healthy in vitamins and minerals, avocados are a great addition to any healthy diet. When eaten on a regular basis, eating avocados can lower your LDL levels by around 22% depending on your diet, according to the Archives of Medical Research.

Avocado is delicious and extremely versatile. Try making a chicken or tuna salad sandwich using smashed avocadoes as the binding agent instead of mayonnaise. 

Brown Rice

Brown rice has lots of soluble fiber, but it can also lower your LDL cholesterol levels. Studies showed that eating 16 grams of brown rice can lower LDL cholesterol while also aiding in digestion. 

One easy way to incorporate brown rice is through stir-fry. Stir-fry can be a cholesterol-fighting dinner thanks to the brown rice, vegetables, and olive oil. To make it even healthier, add a fish protein for the omega-3s. 

Kale

Kale has been labeled a superfood, but there’s a reason for that. On top of being rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, it also binds to bile which can lower LDL cholesterol over time. You can even incorporate it into green smoothies to get more of it into your system if you aren’t a fan of the taste.

Kale isn't for everyone, but you can hide the bitterness in raw salads by adding in dried fruits. Raisins and cranberries add a little sugar content that balances out the bitterness. 

Whey Protein

Studies have shown that adding whey protein to your diet could lower both LDL and total cholesterol in your body. One study had individuals consume 54 grams of whey protein per day for 12 weeks and saw a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol.

Be careful with some whey protein, however! Check the sugar content before you buy a particular brand. You also don't have to down a ton of shakes to get the benefits. You can add the powder into pancake mix and other baked goods. 

Walnuts

Walnuts are composed of polyunsaturated fats and have tons of alpha-linolenic acid. These are plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, meaning they can naturally decrease LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 15%, according to Pharmacy and Therapeutics. Walnut oil is also a fantastic way to reap the benefits without eating the nut alone.

Nuts aren't just for trail mix anymore! Finely chop walnuts and add them to whatever you would add breadcrumbs to. For example, crushed or chopped walnuts can be used as a coating for chicken and fish.

Albacore Tuna

If salmon isn’t your thing, you can grab yourself some albacore tuna. Also high in omega-3 fatty acids, this fish can lower your LDL cholesterol when you eat at least two 3.5-ounce servings weekly. Canned tuna still contains omega-3 fatty acids, but fresh tuna has significantly more.

The great thing about tuna is that it flakes into small pieces for fish tacos. Serve on a soft tortilla and add some salsa with a squirt of lime. 

Soy

Vegans rejoice! Soy milk and tofu are high in protein and can reduce LDL cholesterol by 3 to 4%, according to Harvard Health. You’ll have to eat 25 grams, but it can be pretty easy when you start snacking on edamame or adding tofu to your dishes.

Here's a home-cooked hack! If you aren't a fan of tofu, you can snack on steamed edamame instead of candy or chips. It's much healthier and has a ton of fiber. 

Apples

Studies have shown that apples and apple juice can help inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is the fancy way of saying apples can stop buildup in your arteries. Eating just one small apple per day can give you a gram of fiber and help decrease your overall cholesterol.

Eating a whole apple is a great choice for a snack since the fiber helps you digest the sugars in a healthy way. However, you can also add apples into salads or on top of breakfast oatmeal for extra pizazz. 

Barley

Cooking barley may be unfamiliar, but it’s one of the healthiest grains you can purchase. Multiple studies have found that barley can lower cholesterol as long as you consume half a cup per day. Pearled barley is the most common type, but hulled barley has even higher fiber levels.

Barley isn't a normal pantry item, but don't be intimidated by it! It's easy to add to soup or in a risotto. You can also use it as a pasta salad base. 

Flaxseed

If you don’t like fish, flaxseed is a great alternative. This seed is high in omega-3 fats, which can reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. They’re also high in fiber and easy to add to most morning shakes, so it will keep you regular. 

Flaxseed is easy to sneak into your diet. Sprinkle flaxseeds on salads or in muffin mix for extra fiber and nutrients. You can also use it for breadcrumb coatings for chicken or fish. 

Spinach

Spinach can almost be considered a superfood. It is high in vitamins and minerals, but can also help make your LDL cholesterol drop. The lutein protects your arteries from accumulation, so the cholesterol is whisked away before it has the chance to stick. Eating a half a cup per day is the best way to get these benefits.

Spinach is one of the healthiest things you can add to your diet. The easiest way is to use spinach in place of iceberg lettuce, whether it's a sandwich, a burger, or tacos. 

Chlorella

Chlorella is a green alga that comes in the form of powder. It’s best added to smoothies, but you can include it in nearly anything. Studies in Nutrition Journal show that chlorella can decrease your total cholesterol by 1.6%, lower triglycerides by 10.3%, and decrease LDL cholesterol by 11%. 

Chlorella isn't a common pantry item, but it's worth seeking out. It's often used in smoothies, but you can put it in any muffin, cake, or pancake mix. 

Grapes

Grapes are delicious and good for you. This fruit has a soluble fiber called pectin that reduces the absorption of cholesterol. It also helps remove LDL from the body before it has a chance to stick to your arteries. Further studies are needed to examine how many grapes are needed, but eating some wouldn’t hurt.

For a unique decadent cholesterol-friendly treat, search for grape seed flour. It's a byproduct of winemaking. It has the same texture of flour and tons of nutrition. 

Eggplants

Eggplants are low-calorie and can help decrease your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol. Another added benefit is that it soaks up bile acids, which is a contributing factor to increased LDL cholesterol levels.

There are tons of ways to incorporate eggplant from eggplant parmesan to oven-roasted eggplant. You can also pile some eggplant slices with tomatoes and Italian seasoning for mini pizza bites. 

Black Tea

Green tea is delicious, but black tea can also be fantastic for your body. It’s rich in antioxidants and can help reduce LDL cholesterol by as much as 16%, according to Harvard Health. To get these effects just drink one cup three times a day for 12 weeks. 

Black tea is great with sugar, but be careful! Too much sugar and it becomes unhealthy. For added flavor, add some lemon. It'll provide some sweetness without the high sugar content. 

Cranberry Extract Supplements

Cranberries are great for your kidneys, but they can also benefit your arteries. They contain phytochemicals that are known to reduce inflammation while also decreasing cholesterol. Rather than drinking a ton of juice, you can take 500 mg three times daily. After 12 weeks, a study found that this can significantly reduce LDL cholesterol.

Not everyone enjoys taking pills. If you aren't into supplements, you can mix the powder into a smoothie or shake. It provides the same benefits with a little extra delicious taste.

Okra

Okra is another vegetable that contains phytosterols, which can help decrease cholesterol levels. It also has low fat levels, which means it can also reduce your triglyceride levels. Steaming okra is the best way to prepare it since frying it in butter or lard could counteract the benefits.

Okra is hearty and healthy. It can be added to vegetable soup or gumbo. Alternatively, you can sautee okra with tomato or roast it in the oven. This vegetable is seasonal, so get it when you can!

Tomatoes

Whether fresh, sundried, or crushed in a sauce, tomatoes are great for you. They can cut the risk of heart disease by up to 30% and decrease LDL cholesterol by as much as 10%, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Just eat about a half a cup of tomatoes each day.

When fresh tomatoes are scarce in the winter, you can always use tomato paste. It adds the concentrated flavor and the nutrients you're looking for. 

Asparagus

Most people either love or hate asparagus, but everyone can love the health benefits. Asparagus binds to bile acids and can reduce LDL cholesterol. Rather than sautéing these veggies, make sure to steam them in order to get the full benefits.

Grilling asparagus gives a smoky depth to its flavor. You can use roasted (or baked) asparagus in pasta, on sandwiches, or wrapped in thin fish slices. 

Blueberries

Blueberries are a nutritious superfood, so it makes sense they can help clear your arteries. These berries support the liver so the organ can focus on removing more LDL cholesterol. Plus, you can eat them fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried and get the same effect.

Blueberries are just as tasty by the handful as they are added to other dishes. Try throwing some blueberries in your yogurt, oatmeal, or even your salad.  

Shellfish

Shellfish is a great option for those that want to lower their cholesterol. Shrimp, crab, and lobster are all low in saturated fat and provide a huge dose of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and zinc.

Shellfish can be used in place of any meat. Instead of chicken or beef, add shrimp or lobster. It even works great in macaroni and cheese! Just make sure to wash and remove all the shell pieces before cooking.