You may know that a bad diet can cause your cholesterol levels to climb. But keeping your numbers in check isn’t just about avoiding burgers and fries. In addition to limiting the bad stuff, it’s also important to load up on good-for-you, cholesterol-fighting foods. Try adding these items to your shopping cart:
Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids are seriously heart-friendly. They help lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides, slow the rate at which plaque builds up in your arteries, and can bring down your blood pressure. Some of the top sources of omega-3s are fatty fish, particularly salmon, but also other varieties like tuna, trout, and herring.
You can make that veggie stir-fry even healthier by cooking it in plant-based oils, many of which are rich in omega-3s. Some of the best: flaxseed, walnut, canola, and soybean oil. Just be sure to mind your portion sizes, since even a small drizzle can pack a splash of calories.
Whole-Grain Breads and Cereals
Studies show that dietary fiber can lower LDL cholesterol, but most Americans aren’t eating nearly enough. To get more, skip refined grains with “enriched” flours in favor of labels that say “whole grains.” Breakfast is the perfect time to get a fiber boost. Try switching to oatmeal, whole wheat toast, or bran flakes cereal.
All fruits have some fiber. A banana, an apple, an orange, and a grapefruit each have about 3 grams, though you’ll have to eat the whole thing (orange juice, for example, has just half a gram of fiber per cup). Grab a handful of blueberries (which have 4 grams per cup) or raspberries (which have 8 grams per cup), though, and you’ll hit a fiber motherlode.
These creamy fruits are a terrific way to get more healthy unsaturated fats into your diet. Research suggests that eating an avocado a day can help lower LDL cholesterol in overweight and obese people. Though guacamole is delicious, it’s easy to eat half a bag of chips along with it. Try dipping carrots in it, or have sliced avocados on whole-grain sandwiches or in salads.