|5 Foods That Fight Cholesterol
by Sally Wadyka for MSN Health & Fitness
There’s no denying that a healthy diet is the first line of defense against rising cholesterol. “If you eat a
predominantly plant-based diet—with lots of fruits and vegetables plus some fish—you are on the right
track to keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level,” says Lisa Dorfman, a registered dietitian and
spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. That said, certain so-called super-foods can
actually help lower bad cholesterol and/or increase the good cholesterol. Ideally, you want to shoot for
total cholesterol under 200, with LDL (the bad one) under 110 and HDL (the good one) greater than 35.
Try to incorporate more of these foods into your daily diet:
Studies have found that eating just a quarter cup of almonds a day can lower your LDL by 4.4 percent,
according to dietitian Leslie Bonci, who is also the director of sports nutrition at University of Pittsburgh
Medical Center. “Eating nuts, especially almonds, which are high in good-for-you monounsaturated fat,
is better than simply eating a low-fat snack like pretzels,” says Bonci. Of course, they can also be high in
calories, so stick with a small serving and choose almonds that are dry roasted without oil.
You’ve seen the commercials with people proclaiming dramatic drops in their cholesterol numbers
thanks to a daily serving of this hot cereal. Those great results are due to the high levels of soluble
fiber found in oatmeal. “The soluble fiber binds to the bile acids that are the precursor to the
development of cholesterol and help flush it out,” explains Bonci. It doesn’t matter how you get your
oats—those instant, just-add-water packets are just as good for you as traditional, slow-cooked
Omega-3 fatty acids are widely considered to be the best of the “good” fats, and the best place to
find them is in fish—especially fatty fishes like salmon, halibut and tuna. According to Dorfman of
the ADA, you want to get 1.5 to 3 grams per day of omega-3. A 4-ounce piece of salmon will give
you close to 3 grams, and you can also get these fatty acids from walnuts and flaxseed (two
tablespoons of flaxseed provides 3.5 grams) and in fish oil supplements.
Not everything that’s good for you has to feel virtuous. A glass of red wine, which contains flavanols,
has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that may help lower cholesterol and stave off
heart disease. But in this case, more is definitely not better. “For women, the recommendation is one
drink a day and for men it’s two,” says Bonci. More than that will, literally, dilute any potential benefits.
These flavanols can also be found in red grape juice and dark cocoa.
Soybeans, soy nuts and edamame, plus any products made from soy (like tofu, soymilk, etc.) can
help to reduce the production of new cholesterol. A little can go a long way—aim for about 25
grams of soy protein a day (the amount in a cup of edamame). And those who are at an increased
risk of breast or prostate cancer may want to skip it since too much of soy’s phyto-estrogens can
act similarly to the body’s own estrogen (which has been shown to feed some hormone-dependent