What is choleseterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is essential for us to even exist. Much of the cholesterol in our bodies comes from the foods we eat and from the production made by our amazing organ… the liver!
That is why it is important to monitor our intake of certain types of foods, to ensure we are not overloading our body with unnecessary cholesterol.
In this post, we will explore 9 foods that lower bad cholesterol naturally, but also help raise the “good” cholesterol, which acts to protect and nurture or body systems.
Our liver makes all the cholesterol we need to survive
Why do we need Cholesterol?
There is no doubt about it, cholesterol gets a bad rap. We actually need cholesterol for our body to function.
Cholesterol is produced by the liver and many cells throughout our body. We need certain amounts of cholesterol in our body as it helps:
- Digestion as cholesterol produces bile which helps digest fat and absorbs nutrients from our food
- Our cell membranes need cholesterol to function
- For us to maintain good vitamin D levels, we need cholesterol for this to work correctly
- Cholesterol is essential for the body to produce hormones
Importance of Food for Cholesterol Management
It is possible to lower your cholesterol naturally by changing your diet. Changing your diet to include cholesterol-lowering foods can impact on your overall health.
Some foods also contain plant sterols and stanols that block the digestive system from absorbing cholesterol into the bloodstream. It is important to note that there are two types of cholesterol, Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL). HDL is also known as the bad cholesterol, where LDL the good cholesterol.
Particular foods can lower cholesterol by binding to cholesterol in the digestive system and the bloodstream, eliminating it from your body.
Adding these 9 foods can help reduce “bad” cholesterol.
1.Citrus fruits, strawberries, grapes and apples
Grapes, apples, citrus and strawberries contain good amounts of pectin, which is a type of fibre found in the cells of plants that helps give them structure. Pectin is found in the peels of various fruits, vegetables.
These foods are high in pectin, which lowers LDL from 5-16% without affecting HDL cholesterol (1). This process occurs as pectin binds to bile in the intestine, which helps improve LDL levels.
Oats are high in soluble fibre which binds to LDL and draws it out of the body. Research has shown that the average western diet consumes only half of the recommended daily intake of fibre. The recommended amount of fibre is between 20-35 grams per day, with 5-10 required to come from soluble fibre (2). Incorporating oats into your diet is easy, switch out your cereal in the morning, or even add it into a smoothie!
3. Whole grains
Incorporating other whole grains such as wholemeal wheat and barley increases soluble fibre, therefore increasing the binding to LDL cholesterol and removing it from the body. With the influx of people going on a low carb diet, it is important to understand the importance of whole grains in a healthy and sustainable diet.
Nuts have shown to lower cholesterol by 5%. Although they are considered high in fat, they are high in good fat (HDL) and are good sources of protein and fibre (3). Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia and cashews are readily available and easily added to your diet. Be careful though, a small amount goes a long way and they are very nutrient-dense. So if your counting calories and watching your weight, ensure your servings are not too big.
5. Foods with added plant sterol and stanols
Found commonly in butter, health bars and orange juice, getting 2 grams of plant sterols per day can lower your LDL cholesterol by 10% (1). Products are a little more expensive if they have added sterol and stanols; some people prefer a tablet form to ensure they are getting an adequate amount daily. Blackmores Cholesterol is a popular choice. You can Buy it HERE
6. Consume Fatty fish to help lower cholesterol
Eating fatty fish, such as salmon up to three times per week can lower your LDL cholesterol due to the high omega 3’s.
This works by reducing triglycerides and helping to protect the heart (1). A high intake of fatty fish (not white fish) positively affects good cholesterol, especially if it is in place of red meat.
7. Fibre supplements
If fibre intake is something you struggle to achieve each day, supplementing with fibre supplements is an alternative way to increase fibre intake and decreasing LDL cholesterol. Metamucil is a familiar brand found at most supermarkets, and each serve provides 4 grams of soluble fibre. Check it out on amazon
8. Lower your cholesterol with Beans
Rich in soluble fibre, also helps to reduce the absorption of LDL cholesterol. A fantastic source of fibre are kidney beans and lentils and are easily incorporated into your everyday diet.
The new saying is, eat one avocado a day keeps the doctor away! Avocados give you oleic acid, which lowers bad cholesterol in your bloodstream. A study described in science daily (6) shows that eating one avocado per day lowers LDL and disarms LDL in adults with obesity.
Take away message
Eat wholesome natural foods, and if you lack in fibre or not able to take intake of plant sterols from your diet, you can supplement. Myfitnesspal app (available on play store and apple store) can help to log food. This can log food and give you a breakdown of nutrients and fibre to ensure your meeting your goals.
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1.Healthline. (2020). 10 Promising Benefits and Uses of Apple Pectin
2 . Grundy, M. M., Fardet, A., Tosh, S. M., Rich, G. T., & Wilde, P. J. (2018). Processing of oat: the impact on oat’s cholesterol lowering effect. Food & function, 9(3), 1328–1343. https://doi.org/10.1039/c7fo02006f
3. Healthline (2019). Top 9 nuts to eat to eat for better health. Retrieved from
4. Hagen IV, Helland A, Bratlie M, et al. High intake of fatty fish, but not of lean fish, affects serum concentrations of TAG and HDL-cholesterol in healthy, normal-weight adults: a randomised trial. Br J Nutr. 2016;116(4):648-657. doi:10.1017/S0007114516002555
5. Better Health Channel. (2020). Cholesterol- healthy eating tips. Retrieved from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/cholesterol-healthy-eating-tips
6. Science Daily. (2018). One avocado a day helps lower ‘bad’ cholesterol for heart-healthy benefits. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191028104136.htm