LDL cholesterol is known as the “bad” cholesterol because it is the type that builds up in the walls of arteries. This buildup leads to atherosclerosis, which may eventually result in a stroke or heart attack. While some cholesterol is needed for the body’s normal functions, it is imperative that you lower LDL cholesterol levels when they become high.
Foods that Lower LDL Cholesterol
While there are medicines that can be prescribed for high cholesterol, you can also go the all-natural route and incorporate some of these nine cholesterol-lowering foods into your diet.
Thanks to its high amounts of lutein, studies suggest that spinach can help the artery walls rid themselves of cholesterol buildup. If you don’t care for spinach, this key ingredient is also abundant in other leafy green veggies as well as egg yolks. Spinach is easy enough to add to your diet: saute some in a little bit of olive oil and garlic, or make a spinach salad with some almonds and cashews.
2. Olive Oil
Olive oil is another heart-friendly ingredient that is easy to add into your diet; simply swap in olive oil for whichever other oil or butter you’ve been cooking with. It also makes a great base for many salad dressings and marinades. Thanks to the high amount of monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, this ingredient is able to not only lower your LDL cholesterol, but also help trim belly fat.
Eating steel-cut oats for your breakfast meal can drastically help lower LDL cholesterol. In fact, by eating two servings of oats every day, you can lower your bad cholesterol by a little over 5% in just 6 weeks. Oats also help you feel full longer, reducing your cravings for poor food choices, especially those in high cholesterol. Add a little bit of cinnamon and honey to your oats for a little sweetness and additional health benefits.
Similar to olive oil, avocadoes are full of monounsaturated fats which help lower LDL cholesterol levels. This fruit also packs in a high amount of beta-sitosterol which drastically reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food. Similar to nuts, avocado is fairly calorie-rich, so enjoy it in moderation. However, it is easy to add a small amount to your spinach and nut salad for three-fold cholesterol-busting benefits.
5. Red Wine
Here’s another reason to embrace red wine: scientists in Spain have shown that the fiber in grapes used to make red wine has a significant effect on LDL cholesterol levels in the body. In this Spanish study, the study subjects that had high LDL cholesterol and consumed the same grape supplement that is found in red wine saw their cholesterol decrease by about 12%. Even those without already-high levels of LDL cholesterol saw a 9% drop. Drink up!
There are so many nuts that provide health benefits, such as maintaining brain, skin, and heart health. Now you can add lowering LDL cholesterol to the list of benefits. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was shown that people who consumed 1.5 ounces of walnuts almost every day for a month straight lowered their bad cholesterol by over 9%, with their cholesterol overall being lowered 5%.
If you don’t care for walnuts, almonds and cashews are other good options. While they are healthy and full of “good” fat, nuts are fairly high in calories, so try not to get too carried away! They are however, a great healthy snack and easy to incorporate into your salads, trail mix, and even your daily oatmeal.
Not only is tea full of antioxidants, it also helps lower LDL cholesterol. According to the USDA, research has shown that black tea may reduce blood lipids by 10% in as little as 3 weeks. Blood lipids, or triglycerides, are directly related to cholesterol, which means lower blood lipids translates to lower cholesterol. The link between tea and lower LDL levels is continually being supported by more and more research.
Beans, beans, they make you…lower your LDL cholesterol. Recent research out of Arizona has shown that adding ½ cup of beans to your daily diet can lower your total cholesterol by 8%. The key ingredient in beans’ cholesterol-lowering role is the fiber, which has been suggested to slow the body’s absorption of cholesterol from certain foods.
Beans are easy enough to add to your routine, with the varieties ranging from pinto, black, kidney, and red, and they can be baked, boiled, eaten alone, or added to your soups and stews.
Garlic is all around heart-healthy, thanks to its ability to lower blood pressure, fight infections, and prevent the formation of blood clots. Related to its ability to reduce clots and lower blood pressure, studies also suggest that garlic can actually prevent cholesterol from sticking to the artery walls in the first place. Even if you don’t already have high cholesterol, garlic is a crucial heart-healthy ingredient to incorporate into your diet. The ideal amount, especially when trying to lower LDL, is 2-4 cloves per day.
While high LDL cholesterol can have dire health effects, it is an issue that is relatively easy to control naturally. Incorporate some, or all, of these top nine LDL-lowering foods into your diet as often as possible, and you will soon see those LDL numbers going down, down, down.