Foods that increase or decrease your cholesterol

Foods that increase or decrease your cholesterol level


Blood cholesterol levels are determined by several different factors. Genetics and physical activity are important, but diet is critical as well. One good way to lower your cholesterol level is to eat more of the foods that lower cholesterol, and less of the foods that raise it.

Recently the Harvard Medical School published a list of foods that can lower or increase your blood cholesterol. From the “Harvard Heart Letter”, a summary of their findings.

Foods that decrease cholesterol levels

Oats and whole grains

Full of soluble fiber which attaches to the fats you ingest, and pulls them out of your body via your intestine, rather than being absorbed into your bloodstream. Add whole oats instead of farina.  Look for “100% whole grain” when you buy bread.


Beans are slow to digest, so they satisfy your hunger far longer than most foods. The result is that you take in fewer calories. And again, the soluble fiber attaches to the fats you eat, so you absorb less fat.

Eggplant, okra, sweet potatoes

High soluble fiber content and low calorie.


Almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts are best, but peanuts are a more cost-effective choice. Nuts are full of monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats which lower cholesterol. Eating 50 grams per day can lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol by 5%.

Vegetable oils

A little butter is fine, but mostly, try to replace solid fats with olive, sunflower, or canola oils, all rich in monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Apples and citrus fruits

These have a high content of pectin, a type of fiber especially good for lowering LDL.


Drinking 2 ½ cups of soymilk or eating 250 grams of tofu daily should lower your LDL levels by about 5%.

Fatty fish

You will go a long way to lowering your cholesterol level if you can replace meat in your diet two or three times a week with fatty (full of omega-3) fish, such as salmon, sardines, or tuna.

Fiber supplements

If you don’t get enough fiber in your diet, you can buy soluble fiber supplements such as psyllium, which also act as laxatives.

Foods supplemented with sterols and stanols

These are natural substances derived from plants that also limit absorption of fats in your intestine. Manufacturers are starting to add them to foods, such as margarine, yogurt, and even granola bars. Eating 2 grams of sterols or stanols per day can lower your LDL level a very significant 10% after daily use for a month or more. Stanols and sterols will be appearing in other foods as well, such as cereal and milk, so keep alert to food labels. This is one food “additive” that actually is good for your health.

Foods that increase cholesterol levels

High saturated fat foods

Especially red meats and certain vegetable oils (such as palm and coconut oil) should be minimized if you want to lower your cholesterol level.

Trans fat

Because it is so bad for your heart and blood vessels, intake of trans fat should be zero. Manufacturers are removing it from foods, but it is still around. Check food labels to ensure that the trans-fat content is 0%.

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See also in ProcuraMed:

The World Health Organization declares war on trans fats

Higher protein intake may help protect your bones and muscles

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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