High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
According to the American Heart Association, as blood cholesterol rises, so does the risk of coronary heart disease. The risk increases more for people who also smoke, have high blood pressure or diabetes.
Cholesterol levels can be affected by a personâ€™s age, gender, family health history and diet.
An article in Prevention online details some of the everyday foods that have been proven to help lower cholesterol.
Switching up breakfast to contain two servings of oats a week can lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) by 5.3 percent in about six weeks. The key to this cholesterol buster is beta-glucan, a substance in oats that absorbs LDL, which your body then excretes.
Salmon and Fatty Fish
Omega-3 fats have been shown to ward off heart disease, dementia and many other health problems. These fatty acids also can lower cholesterol. According to research from Loma Linda University, replacing saturated fats with omega-3s like those found in salmon, sardines and herring can raise good cholesterol as much as 4 percent.
In a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who ate 1.5 ounces of whole walnuts six days a week for one month lowered their total cholesterol by 5.4 percent and LDL cholesterol by 9.3 percent. Almonds and cashews are other good options. Nuts are high in calories, so practice portion control â€” 1.5 ounces is about a shot glass and a half.
Teas can help defend against LDL cholesterol levels. According to research conducted with the USDA, black tea has been shown to reduce blood lipids by up to 10 percent in three weeks. These findings were concluded in a larger study of how tea also may help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Researchers at Arizona State University Polytechnic found that adding 1/2 cup of beans to soup lowers total cholesterol, including LDL, by up to 8 percent. The key to this hearthealthy food that lowers cholesterol is its abundance of fiber, which has been shown to slow the rate and amount of absorption of cholesterol in certain foods.
This powerful antioxidant helps build HDL cholesterol levels. In a 2007 study published in AJCN, participants who were given cocoa powder had a 24 percent increase in HDL levels over 12 weeks, compared with a 5 percent increase in the control group.
Garlic has been shown to lower cholesterol; itâ€™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 stage by keeping cholesterol particles from sticking to artery walls.
Olive oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which lower LDL cholesterol. Research shows olive oil also may trim belly fat. Use it to make salad dressings, marinate chicken and fish, or roast vegetables.
Spinach contains lutein, the sunshine-yellow pigment found in dark green leafy vegetables and egg yolks. Lutein already has a "golden" reputation for guarding against age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. Research suggests that one-half cup of a lutein-rich food daily also guards against heart attacks by helping artery walls "shrug off" cholesterol invaders that cause clogging.
Avocados provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that may help raise HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL. Avocado contains beta-sitosterol, a beneficial plant-based fat that reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food.