10 Healthy Foods That Lower Cholesterol

 Having a high cholesterol level increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and heart attacks. Making lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity and losing weight can help lower your cholesterol.

As far as diet goes, start by eating whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Eat red meat less often and avoid added sugars and overly processed foods.

Now that's a great start. Also, you might be able to boost the cholesterol-lowering ability of your diet even more. Research studies indicate certain foods contain natural compounds that can reduce cholesterol, usually by lowering the LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) levels in your bloodstream.

Take a look at ten foods that can help lower your cholesterol. Just please remember these foods aren’t substitutes for cholesterol-lowering medications, and please speak to your health care provider before making any significant dietary changes.

1
Oats

Rolled oats will help lower cholesterol.
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Eating a diet rich in whole grains is associated with having healthier cholesterol levels. Oats contain a soluble fiber called beta-glucan. If you currently have high cholesterol levels, oats can lower cholesterol by as much as 20 percent. Oats and oatmeal are also an excellent source of minerals and protein.

2
Walnuts

Walnuts will help lower cholesterol.
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Walnuts are rich in both monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. Eating these nuts may be able to reduce cholesterol levels by around 15 percent, and may also improve blood vessel function and reduce inflammation. Walnuts are also an also an excellent source of vitamin E, minerals, and B-complex vitamins.  

3
Dry Beans

Beans
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Dry beans, such as kidney beans, navy beans, and black beans, are very high in fiber and plant proteins. Some research indicates that adding beans to a diet can reduce cholesterol levels, as long as the overall calorie count is not increased. Beans are also high in B-complex vitamins and minerals.

4
Olive Oil

Olive oil will help lower cholesterol.
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Olive oil is probably the best-known source of monounsaturated fatty acids and can reduce cholesterol and inflammation. Olive oil should be included in a heart-healthy diet in place of saturated or trans fats. Use it for cooking or to make dressings for salads and veggies.

5
Almonds

Almonds help reduce cholesterol.
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Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, minerals, B-complex vitamins, and vitamin E. Research shows regular consumption of almonds might reduce elevated cholesterol by nearly 20 percent. Almonds make a great snack or healthy topping for a salad or side dish.

6
Soy and Soy Foods

Soy foods reduce cholesterol.
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The protein in soy appears to have a beneficial impact on high cholesterol. Eating two servings of tofu, soy milk, or soybeans could reduce cholesterol levels by as much as five percent. Soy is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

7
Orange Juice

Orange juice can lower cholesterol.
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Orange juice is best known as a breakfast drink and source of vitamin C, but it's also high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, and B-complex vitamins. One research study also found that drinking orange juice every day lowered cholesterol levels and suggested that orange juice might also be helpful for people who didn't have elevated cholesterol. But be a little careful, as orange juice is high in calories.

 

8
Avocado

Sliced avocado in a bowl
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Avocado is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids and plant sterols that can help to reduce cholesterol. Research suggests that adding avocado to a heart-healthy diet can increase the cholesterol-lowering benefit. Avocado is also rich in protein, fiber, B-complex vitamins, vitamin K, and several minerals.

9
Salmon or Tuna

Salmon lowers cholesterol.
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Fatty ocean fish such as salmon and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids and can help reduce cholesterol levels, especially when you eat fish instead of saturated fats from red meats. Herring, trout, and sardines are also high in omega-3s. Fish is also high in protein and minerals.

10
Lentils

Lentils will lower cholesterol
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Lentils are high in fiber, and research suggests that adding lentils to a diet can reduce cholesterol levels as long as the overall calorie count is not increased. Lentils are also high in B-complex vitamins and minerals. They make a lovely addition to soups. Plus, unlike dry beans, lentils don't need to be soaked before cooking.

A Word from Verywell

These foods have been shown to lower cholesterol levels, but it's also important to eat an overall healthy diet, get physically active, and talk to your doctor about all the ways to manage high cholesterol.

Sources:

Anerson JW, Bush HM. "Soy protein effects on serum lipoproteins: a quality assessment and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled studies." J Am Coll Nutr. 2011 Apr;30(2):79-91.

Bester D, Esterhuyse AJ, Truter EJ, van Rooyen J. "Cardiovascular effects of edible oils: a comparison between four popular edible oils." Nutr Res Rev. 2010 Dec;23(2):334-48. 

Cesar TB, Aptekmann NP, Araujo MP, Vinagre CC, Maranhao RC. "Orange juice decreases low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic subjects and improves lipid transfer to high-density lipoprotein in normal and hypercholesterolemic subjects." Nutr Res. 2010 Oct;30(10):689-94.

Thies F, Masson LF, Boffetta P, Kris-Etherton P. "Oats and CVD risk markers: a systematic literature review." Br J Nutr. 2014 Oct;112 Suppl 2:S19-30. 

Wang L, Bordi PL, Fleming JA, Hill AM, Kris-Etherton PM. "Effect of a moderate fat diet with and without avocados on lipoprotein particle number, size and subclasses in overweight and obese adults: a randomized, controlled trial." J Am Heart Assoc. 2015 Jan 7;4(1).