A blood cholesterol test measures your low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol; your high-density lipoprotein, or "good" cholesterol; and your triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of blood fat that alters LDL so it's more damaging to your arteries. Lifestyle changes -- including exercising more, losing weight, eating fewer calories and limiting high-sugar foods and fatty foods -- may help improve your triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Any fruits are allowed on a triglyceride-reducing diet, but eating certain fruits may be more beneficial.
Eating a red grapefruit each day for 30 days may help lower triglyceride levels by more than 17 percent, LDL by more than 20 percent and total cholesterol by more than 15 percent in people with high blood triglycerides, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in March 2006. White grapefruit had a similar, but smaller, effect. Speak with your doctor before adding grapefruit to your diet, however, as it can interact with some medications, including those for high cholesterol.
Another fruit that may help lower your triglyceride levels is kiwi. Eating two to three kiwi fruits per day for 28 days lowered triglyceride levels 15 percent in a study published in the journal Platelets in August 2004. Kiwi fruit didn't affect cholesterol levels, however.
For a healthy heart, you'll also want to keep your LDL cholesterol levels low. Some fruits can help with this. Eating whole apples helped lower LDL cholesterol, but clear apple juice actually increased LDL levels in a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition in December 2013. Although this study didn't show apples had any effect on triglyceride levels, another study, published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine in 2011, found that eating 300 grams of apple per day -- a little less than two medium apples -- for eight weeks led to increases in triglyceride levels. However, the study was small and of short duration, so more research is needed.
Some other fruits help bind substances called bile acids, similar to certain cholesterol medications, and may have the potential to lower cholesterol. Bananas, peaches and pineapples are more effective for this purpose than grapes, pears, apricots and nectarines, according to a study published in Food Chemistry in 2007.
Increasing HDL levels can help improve your overall cholesterol levels, as HDL helps transport cholesterol to the liver for removal from the body. Eating berries for eight weeks helped people increase their HDL levels but didn't affect total cholesterol or triglyceride levels in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February 2008.
Eating papayas may also help you increase your HDL levels. A study published in the FASEB Journal in 2012 found that people who ate more papaya were less likely to have low levels of HDL than those who didn't eat much papaya.
Drinking about 8 ounces per day of a low-calorie version of cranberry juice cocktail may be helpful for increasing HDL levels, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in August 2006.
Eating too many calories or too much of foods that contain high amounts of sugar, including fruits, may increase triglyceride levels. To lower your triglycerides, the University of Wisconsin Hospitals website recommends eating at least two but no more than four servings of fruit per day and eating fresh whole fruit instead of juice or dried fruit. A serving of fruit is typically 1/2 cup of chopped fruit or berries or one piece of a whole fruit like an apple or an orange. Speak to your doctor or a registered dietitian to determine what type and how much fruit would be best for you to eat given your current health situation.
- University of Wisconsin Hospitals: Heart Health: Eating Guidelines to Lower Triglycerides
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Red Grapefruit Positively Influences Serum Triglyceride Level in Patients Suffering From Coronary Atherosclerosis: Studies In Vitro and in Humans
- Platelets: Effects of Kiwi Fruit Consumption on Platelet Aggregation and Plasma Lipids in Healthy Human Volunteers
- International Journal of Preventative Medicine: Effects of Apple Consumption on Lipid Profile of Hyperlipidemic and Overweight Men
- European Journal of Nutrition: Intake of Whole Apples or Clear Apple Juice Has Contrasting Effects on Plasma Lipids in Healthy Volunteers
- Food Chemistry: In Vitro Binding of Bile Acids by Bananas, Peaches, Pineapple, Grapes, Pears, Apricots and Nectarines
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Favorable Effects of Berry Consumption on Platelet Function, Blood Pressure, and HDL Cholesterol
- FASEB Journal: Low Papaya Consumption Increases Risk for Low High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol in Mexican College Applicants
- British Journal of Nutrition: Favourable Impact of Low-Calorie Cranberry Juice Consumption on Plasma HDL-Cholesterol Concentrations in Men