Cholesterol. It’s part of that annoying little phrase you may hear every time you go in for a visit to your doctor. Nearly 31 million adult Americans have a total cholesterol level greater than 240 mg/dL. Although you can’t control all of your risk factors for high cholesterol, you can take steps to prevent high cholesterol and its complications, preferably without medications.
Below we’ve compiled a list of 7 everyday foods that, by consuming on a more regular basis, should help you with getting that pesky number in check.
If you’re looking to lower your cholesterol, switching up your breakfast to contain two servings of oats can lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by 5.3% in only 6 weeks. The key to this wonder food is beta-glucan, a substance in oats that absorbs LDL, which your body then excretes.
Scientists are giving us yet another reason to drink red wine. High-fiber Tempranillo red grapes, used to make red wine like Rioja, significantly lowers cholesterol levels. A study conducted by the Department of Metabolism and Nutrition at Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain found that when individuals consumed the same grape supplement found in red wine, experienced a 9% decrease in LDL levels.
In a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who ate 1.5 oz of whole walnuts 6 days a week for 1 month lowered their total cholesterol by 5.4% and LDL cholesterol by 9.3%. Almonds and cashews are other good options. However portion control is necessary with their high calorie count—1.5 oz is about a shot glass and a half.
According to research conducted with the USDA, black tea has been shown to reduce blood lipids by up to 10% in only 3 weeks. These findings were concluded in a larger study of how tea may also help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Chocolate is a powerful antioxidant that helps build HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. In a 2007 study published in AJCN, participants who were given cocoa powder had a 24% increase in HDL levels over 12 weeks, compared with a 5% increase in the control group.
Garlic makes the list of foods that lower cholesterol; it’s also been found to prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure, and protect against infections. Research shows that it helps stop artery-clogging plaque at its earliest stages by keeping cholesterol particles from sticking to artery walls. Fair warning- carry a few extra mints!
Avocados are a great source of heart-healthy MUFAs, which may actually help raise HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL with it’s beta-sitosterol, a beneficial plant-based fat that reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food.