How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally – The Top 10 Foods to Eat

a box of healthy fruits and vegetables

When it comes to heart health, cholesterol tends to be one of most highly misunderstood aspects. Many people think that to keep their cholesterol levels under control that they have to eat low-fat, bland meals. However, this is definitely not true.

To lower cholesterol naturally, the answer is not to follow a low cholesterol diet and avoid eating all fats. It is all about balance and moderation, which involves eating a variety of anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, cholesterol-lowering foods.

Fortunately, there is a wide range of foods that can help to naturally lower cholesterol levels, including lean meats, fish, whole grains, legumes, beans, vegetables and fruits, which makes following a heart-healthy diet easy and pleasurable.

What Causes High Cholesterol

Although high cholesterol levels can be caused by numerous factors, including hypothyroidism, stress, diabetes, inactivity, and genetics, the number one cause for high and unhealthy cholesterol levels is a poor diet.

Unfortunately, the standard Western or American diet is highly inflammatory. This lowers HDL (“good”) cholesterol and increases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

a cheesburger sits with flames behind it

Cholesterol is actually a naturally occurring substance that is critical for human survival. The liver produces it, and it is needed by the body in order for the hormones, nerves, and cells to function properly.

Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream in lipid (fatty acid) form.

Usually those particles do not build up on the artery walls. However, when inflammation increases, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad cholesterol,” starts to build up inside of the arteries, which can potential lead to a stroke or heart attack.

That is why it is essential to keep your cholesterol level under control.

Fortunately, diet is key to keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level, and you can control that by consuming foods that can naturally lower your cholesterol as part of an overall healthy diet.

Although there is no such things as magic foods, there are many that an help to lower your cholesterol so that you can avoid having to take medication or increase your risk for dangerous health conditions such as strokes and heart attacks.

Along with getting enough exercise and reducing the amount of foods that increase total cholesterol levels, be sure to consume more of the following foods that help to lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol and increase your “good” HDL cholesterol to improve your overall cholesterol profile and health.

Top 10 Foods That Naturally Lower Your Cholesterol

1. Vegetables (Especially Greens)

Vegetables are full of nutrients and have anti-inflammatory properties that make them one of the most highly antioxidants foods around.

a box of healthy fruits and vegetables

They are full of phytochemicals which work to fight against free radical damage, keep the arteries healthy and flexible, and slow the aging process down.

Numerous dark leafy green vegetables, such as kale and spinach, are low in calories but protect against heart attacks through helping to keep the artery walls free of cholesterol buildup.

Although almost every kind of vegetable is good for your health, artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, onions, and beets are particularly using in increasing your intake of fiber and protecting the health of your heart.

2. Nuts

All types of nuts can be good sources of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. In particular tree nuts like pecans, pistachios, and walnuts have been show that they reduce both bad LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol.

This helps to prevent damage from building up inside of the artery walls and also helps to prevent harmful cholesterol plaque buildup, along with fighting obesity and weight gain.

a bin of almonds at the grocery store

Certain nuts like almonds supply plant-based compounds called flavonoids that reduce inflammation and improve artery health.

Nuts contain high levels of fiber, monounsaturated fat, and several minerals and vitamins that help to keep the heart healthy.

There are also plant sterols in nuts that block cholesterol you consume from entering into your bloodstream.

3. Avocados

Avocados are not only delicious but they also can hep to reduce your cholesterol.

They are one of the best sources in the world of monounsaturated fat, which is very healthy for your heart since is lowers bad LDL cholesterol and increases good HDL cholesterol.

Avocados also contain phytosterols, antioxidants, and fibers, which help to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels.

4. Salmon

This fish is one of the best sources in the world of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats help to lower blood pressure.

The nutrition offered by salmon has been links to reduced rates of depression, cognitive disorders, heart disease and numerous other conditions.

a salmon fillet is ready for the grill

Although eating salmon will not reduce your bad LDL cholesterol is will help to improve good HDL cholesterol, which results in cholesterol being swept off the artery walls to prevent the formation of dangerous plaque.

There are other fatty fish that are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including herring, mackerel, sardines, and tuna which are also heart-healthy foods.

In addition to raising good cholesterol levels, these fatty fish also can support better brain function and healthy weight levels.

5. Apples

There are numerous fruits that are in rich in soluble fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol. However, apples have advantages over many other fruits.

Apples, and the skins in particular, contain pectin, which is a kind of soluble fiber which attaches itself to bad cholesterol and then guides it through the digestive system and then completely out of he body, which reduces LDL cholesterol levels.

a pile of red apples

Although citrus fruits are high in pectin as well, it is mainly in the pulp, meaning you need to eat these fruits in order to receive the benefits, instead of just drinking the juice.

Fortunately, apples are a bit easier to eat.

Apples also contain high levels of polyphenols, which are powerful antixoidants which help to reduce inflammation.

6. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is among the most effective cholesterol-fighting foods due to having such high levels of beta-glucans.

These soluble fibers bulk up in the liquid that is used to make oatmeal. Your bad LDL cholesterol is lowered by soluble fibers through forming a very sticky layer inside of the small intestine.

This prevents cholesterol from entering into the bloodstream. Make sure to make your oatmeal from oats instead of the instant kind that contains tons of added sugar.

7. Garlic

Garlic is among the most extensively researched heart healthy ingredients around.

For example, it has been shown that raw garlic can reverse diseases due to its immune-boosting, anti-diabetic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

Studies have also found that garlic protects against infections, reduces blood pressure, prevents blood clots, and lowers cholesterol.

8. Beans

Beans are full of fiber, which helps to slow down the amount and rate of the absorption of cholesterol. They also contain beneficial trace minerals and antioxidants that help to support healthy circulation.

Beans also contain high amounts of protein, making them a good heart-healthy replacement that can be used instead of meat and other protein sources from animals.

9. Ancient and Gluten-Free Whole Grains

a pile of natural grains

Whole grains are associated with improved heart health, mainly due to being a great fiber source.

However, since gluten is a very common sensitivity that promotes inflammation, we recommend that you focus on gluten-free grains such as amaranth, buckwheat, rolled oats, and quinoa.

These grains have a tendency to be much easier to digest, and may be used in the same ways that wheat flour and wheat are.

They also provide lots of nutrients. For example, oats contain beta-glucan, which enhances heart health and absorbs cholesterol.

10. Flaxseeds and Chia Seeds

One of the greatest benefits of flaxseeds is they are the richest source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a plant-based type of omega-3 fatty acid.

They are also the richest source of hormone-balancing lignans. Flaxseeds and chia seeds both contain very high levels of insoluble and soluble fiber. This helps to support weight loss, gut health, and detoxification.

Soluble fiber traps cholesterol and fat inside of the digestive system so that your body cannot absorb it.

Then bile gets excreted through your digestive system, which forces your body to produce more, and use up excessive cholesterol within the blood and helps to lower overall cholesterol.

Precautions

cholesterol chemical structure

Although incorporating the above foods into your diet definitely can help to keep your cholesterol levels under control, it is very important that you combine them with a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet to truly optimize your heart health.

Even if you follow the best cholesterol-lowering diet in the world, just adding a couple of super foods once in a while won’t make a big difference if you don’t make other changes to your lifestyle as well.

Some other natural ways to help lower your cholesterol include giving up certain unhealthy habits such as drinking and smoking, cutting out high cholesterol and heavily processed foods, increasing your whole foods intake, exercising on a regular basis, and minimizing stress levels.

These things will also help to support better overall health as well.

Final Thoughts

Cholesterol is a type of naturally-occurring substance and is critical for ensuring overall good health.

However, if your cholesterol level is too high, it may build up inside of your arteries which increases your risk of developing heart disease.

In order to avoid having to take medication to reduce your cholesterol, one of the most natural and effective methods for lowering your LDL levels is to just make changes to your diet and incorporate more of the top foods listed above that can help to naturally lower your cholesterol.

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