High cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease. Some powerful foods contain nutrients and properties that can lower your cholesterol. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat are found in different foods and help to improve cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber -- found in fruits, vegetables and legumes -- works to lower the "bad" LDL cholesterol. Incorporate cholesterol-lowering foods into your diet to protect yourself against heart disease.
Fatty Fish: Wild Salmon and Mackerel
Certain types of fish contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats known as omega-3 fatty acids that help to lower triglycerides, which are the fats in your blood, and raise the "good" HDL cholesterol. Fish with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are wild salmon and mackerel. Eat fatty fish at least twice per week to lower your cholesterol and risk for heart disease.
Foods With Healthy Fats: Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Avocado
Olive and canola oil are liquid plant-based oils containing monounsaturated fats that help to lower the "bad" LDL cholesterol. Choose these fats instead of butter, lard and shortening, which are higher in saturated fat that increases cholesterol. Try dressing your salad or roasted vegetables with olive oil for a dose of healthy fat. Avocado is also a powerhouse food high in monounsaturated fat. Avocado can be added as a spread to sandwiches in place of mayonnaise and butter to help lower cholesterol.
Nuts: Walnuts and Pistachios
Nuts contain healthy fat that helps lower cholesterol. Walnuts are unique because they contain omega-3 fatty acids that lower triglycerides and raise HDL. A 2010 study in the "Journal of Nutrition" found that pistachios, which contain monounsaturated fats, help to lower LDL cholesterol in adults with high cholesterol. Try consuming a portion-controlled snack of walnuts or pistachios instead of chips or sweets that are typically high in unhealthy fats that raise cholesterol.
Foods With Soluble Fiber: Brussels Sprouts, Oranges and Lima Beans
Soluble fiber has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol by blocking cholesterol and fats from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Cooked Brussels sprouts and oranges contain higher levels of soluble fiber than other fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables also contain antioxidants that help to protect against heart disease. Soluble fiber can also be found in cooked lima beans, which contain more soluble fiber than other types of beans.
- National Cholesterol Education Program: High Blood Cholesterol: What You Need to Know
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Harvard University Health Services: Fiber Content of Foods in Common Portions
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Your Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol With TLC
- The Journal of Nutrition: Pistachios Increase Serum Antioxidants and Lower Serum Oxidized-LDL in Hypercholesterolemic Adults