Can Certain Foods Affect Cholesterol Levels?

Plus, learn which foods you should limit.

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When it comes to a healthy diet to improve cholesterol levels, it’s important to remember that no individual food is a “cure.” Instead, doctors recommend focusing on your overall dietary patterns. In fact, a diet to lower cholesterol looks a lot like a healthy diet for everyone. That said, there are some foods to lower cholesterol that you should try to include.

What to Limit or Avoid

One of the main contributors to high cholesterol is saturated fat intake. For this reason, it’s a good idea to limit your intake of:

  • Red meat (such as beef and lamb)
  • Fatty meats (such as bacon)
  • High-fat dairy (such as butter, cheese, and cream)
  • Fried foods

Once again, this aligns with the dietary guidelines for all Americans and is not unique to people with high cholesterol.

Foods to Lower Cholesterol

There are categories of foods that may be beneficial, when part of an overall healthy diet. These categories of foods to lower cholesterol include:

  • Foods high in soluble fiber
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains (such as whole wheat bread and brown rice)
  • Lean proteins (such as beans, tofu, and chicken breast)

What Is Soluble Fiber?

While all types of fiber are good for a healthy diet, soluble fiber in particular may help people with high cholesterol. Soluble fiber is a type of fiber that turns to gel during digestion, and it may help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. You can find soluble fiber in foods like:

  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Certain fruits (such as avocado, pears, apples, and apricots)
  • Certain vegetables (such as brussels sprouts, carrots, and broccoli)

Remember, foods to lower cholesterol are only as powerful as your overall diet. For help eating a heart-healthy diet, talk to your doctor or meet with a registered dietitian. (Find out what to expect at your first nutritionist appointment here.)