5 ways to lower your cholesterol with a heart-healthy diet

  • 2 Minutes Read
Sue Heikkinen
Sue Heikkinen, MS, RDN, CDCES, BC-ADM, ACE-PT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Did you know that there are ways to lower your cholesterol up to 20 percent with heart-healthy diet changes? Here are our top ways to lower cholesterol while still enjoying tasty foods.

Ways to lower your cholesterol

Check out our top 5 nutritional ways to lower your cholesterol

High LDL ("bad") cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart disease. Fortunately, high cholesterol is a risk factor you can tackle, unlike age or family history. There are several proven ways to lower your cholesterol, and that includes a heart-healthy diet.

1. Focus on healthier fats and oils

Saturated fats found in high-fat meats, dairy foods, and tropical oils raise your blood cholesterol more than dietary cholesterol. To reap the benefits to your heart and improve cholesterol, swap in healthy sources of fats and oils. For example, choose nuts and seeds as a snack, cook with olive oil instead of butter, or replace cheese with a slice of avocado on a sandwich. Such small changes practiced consistently can lower your LDL cholesterol while increasing your HDL ("good") cholesterol. You can set your saturated fat target and track it with MyNetDiary.

2. Eat foods high in soluble fiber

Soluble fiber is a type of fiber that acts like a sponge, soaking up cholesterol and reducing how much cholesterol your body makes. The National Lipid Association recommends eating 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day to lower LDL cholesterol up to 11 points. One of the simplest and cheapest ways to lower your cholesterol is by consuming beans. Beans make an excellent source of soluble fiber. For example, a one-cup serving of black beans provides an impressive 5 grams of soluble fiber. Oatmeal, chia seed, carrots, and apples also take the win for this fiber. These high-fiber foods can also help you feel full, supporting your weight-loss efforts.

3. Try plant stanols or sterols

Plant sterols and stanols occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, vegetable oils, seeds, nuts, and grains. Both are related to cholesterol, but their effect lowers rather than raises your LDL blood cholesterol level. It takes 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols to reduce your LDL cholesterol by about ten percent. Although many healthy foods contain plant sterols or stanols, it's not practical to get the recommended amount from food. Some foods, such as spreads and dressings, are fortified with plant stanols or sterols. Although not among the most common ways to lower your cholesterol, popular supplements include CholestOff and Cholesterol Success.

4. Include soy as a protein source

Adding soy foods to your diet can lower cholesterol by about five percent. Although this may not sound like an impressive amount, consider how the effects of such diet changes add up. Minimally processed soy foods such as edamame and tempeh are naturally high in fiber and provide a significant source of protein.

5. Maintain a healthy weight

If you are overweight, losing a few pounds can help lower cholesterol. Weight loss can improve triglyceride levels while improving your HDL cholesterol. MyNetDiary will help you develop a plan to reach your weight-loss goals, supporting you along the way. Consider our Premium Meditteranean plan for a sustainable, heart-healthy diet.

When diet isn't enough

What if you are at high risk for heart disease or your cholesterol remains too high despite a heart-healthy diet? Your doctor may recommend a statin or other cholesterol-lowering medication. Don't despair. These medications can help protect your blood vessels in addition to lowering cholesterol.

Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.

Additional resources

Blood Cholesterol (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute)

Prevention and Treatment of High Cholesterol (American Heart Association)

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