How to Lower LDL Cholesterol With Diet

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Build up of LDL in arteries
Build up of LDL in arteries (Image: Photo courtesy of smartbudgie.com)

LDL cholesterol, better known as the "bad cholesterol," can cause many health problems if steps are not taken to reduce it. Among some of these problems is hardening of the arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Although there are a number of medications which help lower your level of LDL, sometimes simply tweaking your diet is all it takes to bring your levels within a healthy range.

Increase soluble fiber. Eating your fair share of soluble fiber each day may lower your LDL; it has the ability to reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed in the intestines. This can be found in foods such as cooked oatmeal, kidney beans, apples and barley. To be effective, doctors recommend eating at least 10 grams of foods containing this fiber each day. This can be accomplished by consuming 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal each day, along with one piece of fruit.

Grab some nuts. Certain nuts, such as walnuts, hazelnuts and pecans, are full of polyunsaturated fats. These types of fatty acids aid in keeping the blood vessels healthy and elastic. The FDA has recommended eating a handful of nuts each day, which is sufficient due to their high calorie content. They also make a great topper for salads, versus cheese and meat which are higher in fat.

Eat some fish. Eating fish such as mackerel, trout and salmon may help reduce LDL levels due to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in them. To achieve the greatest benefit from fish, it is better to bake or grill it, and enjoy two servings of it per week. If you're not a fish lover, take an omega-3 supplement instead--however you will miss out on some of the benefits that fish offers.

Cook with olive oil. Not all oil is bad for your health--in fact, cooking with olive oil actually helps lower LDL levels because of the antioxidants its loaded with. There are many tasty ways to enjoy this oil; saute vegetables in it, baste meat with it before cooking, or use it in combination with vinegar as a salad dressing. To achieve even greater benefits, use extra-virgin olive oil; it has been processed less, meaning there are even more antioxidants to fight off the bad cholesterol.

Find plant sterols. Plant sterols are substances found in plants which help block the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. They are found in many types of foods, among which are orange juice and yogurt drinks. According to the American Heart Association, foods fortified with plant sterols should be consumed by those whose LDL levels are 160 or greater. Drinking two 8-ounce glasses of orange juice per day with these sterols is considered sufficient to see results.

Tips & Warnings

  • Although adding these foods to your diet may help lower your LDL levels, you should also cut back on foods high in trans fats. These are typically found in high fat meats, and cookies, crackers and cakes which are found in the store.

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