Cholesterol is a type of fat that is found in our blood and we need this fat for the growth and proper function of our brain and other organs. But too much of this fat is not good either. It will clog the arteries that carry the blood throughout our body and hence people need to take medication to lower the amount.
Interestingly there are some super foods that can lower cholesterol naturally. This especially is helpful for people with borderline high cholesterol and in general for everybody who want to eat healthy and keep their cholesterol levels under control.
Here are 14 foods that can help you lower cholesterol naturally.
Avocados are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in healthy fatty acids that help facilitate good digestion and reduce hunger. In the journal Archives of Medical Research, it has been published that including avocado in one’s diet is helpful in improving cholesterol levels of hypercholesterolemic patients.
Reference: López Ledesma, R., and Hernández Domínguez BC, Cervantes Montalvo S, Hernández Luna MH, Juárez C, Morán Lira S. Frati Munari AC. “Monounsaturated fatty acid (avocado) rich diet for mild hypercholesterolemia.” Arch Med Res, 1996 : 519-523.
In contrast to the popular belief that nuts have bad effects on health, nuts are in fact good sources of protein, fiber, minerals and other essential nutrients. Ros (2010) have studied about the effect of eating nuts by patients with hypertension and high cholesterol. Interestingly, the results of his study showed that nuts are effective in lowering cholesterol levels. Aside from that, it can lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and even contribute to weight loss. But it should be raw or dry roasted nuts and limit to 1/4 cup a day.
Reference::Ros, Emilio. “Health Benefits of Nut Consumption.” Nutrients, 2010: 652–682.
Garlic has long been geared for its medicinal uses as well as for the prevention and treatment of various disorders. This small yet amazing food possess anti-tumor and anti-microbial properties. Various compounds in garlic are also associated in the reduction of cholesterol level and blood sugar levels.
Reference: Leyla Bayan, Peir Hossain Koulivand,and Ali Gorji. “Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects.” Avicenna J Phytomed, 2014: 1-14.
Spinach are dark green leafy vegetables which contain high amounts of antioxidants. A recent study by Korean scientists showed the ability of spinach to lower cholesterol in patients who have high cholesterol levels. The results of their study suggested that the antioxidant activity of spinach is an effective way to decrease cholesterol. Go for Organic Spinach.
Reference: Sang-Heui Ko, Jae-Hee Park,2 So-Yun Kim,2 Seon Woo Lee,2 Soon-Sil Chun,1 and Eunju Park2. “Antioxidant Effects of Spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) Supplementation in Hyperlipidemic Rats.” Prev Nutr Food Sci, 2014 Mar: 19-26.
Carrots are widely popular as the “good for the eyes” vegetables. They provide the major sources of fibers and antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin A. In addition to this, they are good sources of vitamin C for improved immunity. However, a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition suggested that carrots are capable of lowering the “bad cholesterol” levels in the body. Eating carrots every day can also lower blood sugar level and decrease the likelihood for cancers. Now, who says carrots are only good for improving the eyesight?
Reference: Nicolle, C., and Aprikian O, Busserolles J, Grolier P, Rock E, Demigné C, Mazur A, Scalbert A, Amouroux P, Rémésy C. Cardinault N. “Effect of carrot intake on cholesterol metabolism and on antioxidant status in cholesterol-fed rat.” Eur J Nutr, 2003: 254-261.
Beans, like any other member of the legume family like peas and lentils are known to have high amounts of fiber which is essential for proper digestion. In addition to that, Winham and Hutchins studied the effects of eating beans by people who have histories of high cholesterol levels. The results of their experiments suggested that people who included beans in their diet generally had lower levels of cholesterol as compared to those who did not.
Like any other citrus fruits, grapefruit contains high amounts of vitamin C which is beneficial for greater immunity to diseases. Grapefruit also contain the compound called pectin, which according to a study published in the journal Clinical Cardiology, reduce blood cholesterol levels. The study suggested that eating grapefruit daily, without any change in lifestyle habits, can lower the risks for hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Reference: Cerda, J.J., and Robbins FL, Burgin CW, Baumgartner TG, Rice RW. “The effects of grapefruit pectin on patients at risk for coronary heart disease without altering diet or lifestyle.” Clin Cardiol, 1988: 589-594.
Like grapefruit, strawberries are excellent sources of vitamin C. Strawberries also have high amounts of antioxidants which are linked to reducing the risks for cardiovascular diseases. A study published in the journal Metabolism showed the patients who included strawberries in their diet generally had lower levels of cholesterol. In addition to that, strawberries also improved the palatability of the patients’ diets. Go for Organic Strawberries.
Reference: Jenkins, D.J., and Kendall CW, Faulkner DA, Bashyam B, Kim IJ, Ireland C, Patel D, Vidgen E, Josse AR, Sesso HD, Burton-Freeman B, Josse RG, Leiter LA, Singer W. Nguyen TH. “The effect of strawberries in a cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio.” Metabolism, 2008: 1636-1644.
Whether you consume them as juice or raisins, the health benefits of grapes are truly undeniable. Findings by Mohammad and his colleagues (2012) showed that eating grapes is highly associated with the decreased risk of heart disease. People who consumed 150 mL of grape juice per day had significantly lower cholesterol levels as compared to those who simply drank water. Grapes is also good source of vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, which are all essential for increasing immunity against infectious diseases. Go for Organic Grapes.
Reference: Mohammad H Khadem-Ansari, Yousef Rasmi, and Fatemeh Ramezani. “Effects of Red Grape Juice Consumption on High Density Lipoprotein-Cholesterol, Apolipoprotein AI, Apolipoprotein B and Homocysteine in Healthy Human Volunteers.” Open Biochem J, 2012: 96-99.
Refreshing and juicy, this tropical fruit is widely known for its high fiber content, which helps promote better digestion. Pineapples also contain a substance called bromelain which has anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and antibacterial properties. A recent study by Rajendra Pavan (2012) suggested that the bromelain content of pineapples can also reduce risks for cardiovascular diseases. Bromelain can significantly lower blood cholesterol levels without producing any major side effects.
References: Rajendra Pavan, Sapna Jain, Shraddha, and Ajay Kumar. “Properties and Therapeutic Application of Bromelain: A Review.” Biotechnol Res Int, 2012: doi: 10.1155/2012/976203.
Eating apples is generally linked to reducing risks of cardiovascular diseases. Apples are rich in polyphenols and pectin, which are known to lower cholesterol in the body. The fiber content of apples also contributes to this effect. Hence, the popular saying “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away“, proves to be true in this case. Go for Organic Apples.
Reference: Ravn-Haren G1, Dragsted LO, Buch-Andersen T, Jensen EN, Jensen RI, Németh-Balogh M, Paulovicsová B, Bergström A, Wilcks A, Licht TR, Markowski J, Bügel S. “Intake of whole apples or clear apple juice has contrasting effects on plasma lipids in healthy volunteers.” Eur J Nutr, 2013: 1875-1889.
Oats is very popular for its weight reducing properties but did you know that they can also lower cholesterol levels too? Recent studies showed that the dietary fiber called β-glucan is responsible for lowering cholesterol levels of hypercholesterolemic patients. Aside from that, this dietary fiber also promotes better digestion to avoid constipation.
Reference: Othman, R.A., and Jones PJ. Moghadasian MH. “Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan.” Nutr Rev, 2011: 299-309.
Oats aren’t the only whole grains that supports a healthy heart. Barley has also been shown to have many health benefits which includes promoting proper digestion and preventing constipation. Barley also contains high amounts of β-glucan which is extremely powerful in helping reduce total cholesterol. Studies show that people who eat barley daily had better heart health as compared to those who don’t.
Reference: Ripple Talati, William L. Baker, Mary S. Pabilonia, PharmD,1 C. Michael White, PharmD, FCP, FCCP,1,2 and Craig I. Coleman, PharmD1,. “The Effects of Barley-Derived Soluble Fiber on Serum Lipids.” Ann Fam Med, 2009: 157-1632.
Quite surprising as it may seem, cocoa can lower cholesterol levels. According to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cocoa products and other goods from cacao plant are rich in substances called flavonoids which can reduce blood pressure and lower the risks of heart diseases. Cocoa and cacao products also contain magnesium and calcium which are essential for the proper functions of most organs in the body.
References: Tokede, O.A., Gaziano JM, Djoussé L. “Effects of cocoa products/dark chocolate on serum lipids: a meta-analysis.” Eur J Clin Nutr, 2011: 879-886.