The Best Foods to Eat to Lower Your Cholesterol

Dietary changes can have a significant impact on your blood cholesterol levels, helping prevent serious complications down the road, such as atherosclerosis, heart disease, and stroke. 

According to Harvard Health Publishing, half of all heart disease deaths are preventable with proper lifestyle changes. These changes include eating a diet low in bad fats and sugar, exercising regularly, and quitting cigarettes. 

When talking with her Philadelphia area patients, Nicole Arcuri Kimzey, DO, focuses not on the things you can’t eat, but on the foods that can actually help you improve your heart health. These foods may help you lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and/or raise good cholesterol (HDL) to reduce your chances of developing heart complications.

1. Olive oil 

Unsaturated fats are known to lower inflammation and cholesterol, whereas saturated and trans fats may raise cholesterol levels.

The good news is that olive oil is packed with healthy fats that lower bad cholesterol and fight inflammation. One study suggests that daily olive oil consumption reduces the incidence of cardiac events in people suffering from heart disease.

2. Dark leafy greens

While it’s hard to find a vegetable that isn’t heart-friendly, dark leafy greens are particularly helpful when it comes to lowering cholesterol and preventing cholesterol build-up complications.

When steamed, spinach and kale contain acids that encourage your body to eliminate excess cholesterol, and their high antioxidant content helps with fighting free radicals, which cause plaque buildup in your arteries. 

3. Garlic

Garlic helps combat two markers that go along with heart disease: hypertension and elevated cholesterol. Studies suggest that garlic may help reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Many studies use large amounts of garlic in supplement form, but eating garlic is healthy, too.

For best results, crush the garlic and let it sit for 10 minutes before cooking it. This way, you preserve allicin, the compound responsible for garlic’s therapeutic power. 

4. Avocados

Rich in good fats, fiber, and antioxidants, studies show that avocados have a positive impact on total cholesterol levels, LDL, and triglycerides. 

In one small study done on overweight and obese adults, the group that ate one avocado per day saw a significant decrease in their bad cholesterol.  

5. Very dark chocolate 

As long as it has a cocoa content of at least 75% (and 85% is better), dark chocolate can both satisfy your sweet tooth and improve your health. Studies show that daily dark chocolate or cocoa intake can lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and blood pressure while increasing HDL, the good cholesterol.

6. Almonds and walnuts 

Nutrient-dense and versatile, almonds and walnuts are rich in phytosterols, plant compounds that block the absorption rate of cholesterol in your intestines. Nuts also contain substantial amounts of heart-friendly minerals such as magnesium and potassium, and they’re rich in omega-3 fats. 

Studies show that eating nuts daily can improve cholesterol numbers and reduce heart disease risk.

7. Fatty fish 

Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and sardines are a great way to fight inflammation and lower cholesterol. Rich in omega-3 fats, fatty fish were found to improve HDL levels in a 4-week study on normal-weight individuals.

However, keep in mind that fried fish has a negative impact on heart health, so make sure to either steam, stew, or broil your fish. 

If you need to improve your cholesterol numbers, our specialist, Dr. Kimzey can help you with personalized advice. Contact us today by calling the office or using the online booking tool to schedule an appointment. 

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