Cholesterol is a fat-like substance, also called a lipid or sterol, that is made in the liver and circulates in your blood to aid in body processes. Like humans, animals also produce cholesterol, meaning there is cholesterol in meat, milk and eggs. While some dietary cholesterol is okay, if you eat too much, the excess can be deposited in your arteries, which increases your risk of heart disease. One way to reduce cholesterol is to eat fruit, which is high in fiber and contains other beneficial nutrients.
A study at Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported in 2006 by the American Chemical Society's "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry," showed that people with high cholesterol who failed to respond to medication lowered their cholesterol levels significantly by eating a single serving of grapefruit a day for one month. Both white and red versions of grapefruit were successful at lowering cholesterol, although the red version was more effective and also had a greater effect on triglyceride levels. The study's authors, led by Shela Gorinstein, PhD, theorized that grapefruit's antioxidant properties were responsible for its cholesterol-lowering effects.
Apples and many other fruits contain soluble fiber, which among its many benefits has been shown to lower levels of low-density lipoproteins, according to the Mayo Clinic. Low-density lipoproteins are considered "bad" cholesterol because they form deposits in arteries, thus raising your risk of heart disease. In addition to apples, the Mayo Clinic lists pears and prunes as other high-fiber fruits that can lower cholesterol.
Numerous studies have found that strawberries, blueberries and other members of the berry families help to lower LDL cholesterol. A 2009 study by A. Basu and colleagues at Oklahoma State University, the results of which were published in the "Nutrition Journal," found that women who ate freeze-dried strawberry powder in drinks lowered both their LDL and total cholesterol levels significantly after only four weeks. In another study at the University of California Davis, the results of which were published in 1998 in "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry," researchers led by Edwin Frankel, PhD, showed that blackberries, red raspberries, sweet cherries, blueberries and strawberries all help to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Many types of orange juice are fortified with plant sterols, substances that the Mayo Clinic says can lower LDL cholesterol levels by 10 percent. Orange juice has also been shown in clinical studies to raise HDL, or good cholesterol levels. High HDL levels are good for your health, because HDL helps shuttle cholesterol out of the arteries and back to the liver for elimination. In one study reported in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2000, Elzbieta M. Kurowska and colleagues found that men and women who drank 750 ml of orange juice a day raised their HDL levels by 21 percent.
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- Science Daily: Red Grapefruit Appears to Lower Cholesterol, Fight Heart Disease
- Mayo Clinic: Cholesterol: Top 5 Foods to Lower Your Numbers
- "Nutrition Journal"; Freeze-Dried Strawberry Powder Improves Lipid Profile and Lipid eroxidation in Women with Metabolic Syndrome: Baseline and Post Intervention Effects; A. Basu, et al.; Sept. 28, 2009
- Science Daily: Eating Berries Can Help Lower LDL Cholesterol