A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Feeding your heart: Foods to help lower cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy material that your body needs to make hormones, vitamin D and other substances. However, cholesterol can be bad if too much comes from foods high in saturated fat. This is why it is important to eat foods to help lower your cholesterol, such as those high in soluble fiber.

Avocados are foods to help lower cholesterol because it is not high in saturated fat

Fruits like avocados and apples, and citrus fruits like oranges and bananas are foods that can help lower cholesterol.

Cholesterol is produced in the liver and ingested from animal products like meat, eggs and dairy products. While we typically hear about it as a negative thing, both good and bad exist in the body.

“Bad cholesterol is called LDL cholesterol. Too much of it in the body can increase risk of heart disease,” explained Paula McIntyre, a Marshfield Clinic Health System registered nutritionist. “Higher levels of LDL cholesterol can be deposited in the arteries, which narrows them and increases heart disease risk.”

You can break down LDL cholesterol by eating healthy fats and soluble fiber.

Healthy fats to lower bad cholesterol

“Foods that can increase bad cholesterol have saturated fat,” McIntyre said. “This includes meat like prime cuts of beef and chicken with skin, and products like cheeses, ice cream, whole or 2% milk, butter and sour cream.”

Instead of these foods, try oily fish like salmon, trout and albacore tuna. These foods have Omega-3 fatty acids that lower triglycerides, another type of fat found in the blood. These in turn lower bad cholesterol.

Fiber up

Another nutrient found in foods that help lower cholesterol is fiber, especially soluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps the body get rid of cholesterol. A daily intake of 5-10 grams or more of soluble fiber is recommended. Oatmeal is a great soluble fiber that can really help. Soy products like edamame and starchy beans are also high in soluble fiber.

McIntyre said another great source of fiber is nuts, especially walnuts. “Studies have shown walnuts lower LDL cholesterol levels in the body,” she said. “But be cautious of how much you consume, because they are high in calories.”

Fruits like avocados and apples, and citrus fruits like oranges and bananas also are sources of soluble fiber. Some provide folate, a vitamin that helps keep your heart healthy. Vegetables that lower cholesterol include broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, carrots, sweet potatoes and asparagus.

“You can’t expect lower levels by eating one or two of these foods occasionally,” McIntyre said. “Following a balanced low fat diet, being regularly active and maintaining a healthy weight are also important.”

Every person is different, so you may require a different meal plan. For the best results, talk to your doctor or a registered nutritionist about a meal plan that is right for you.

Foods that can help
lower your cholesterol

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Albacore tuna



  • Canola oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil


Avocado illustration


  • Edamame


  • Walnuts
  • Almonds



  • Apples
  • Citrus fruits
  • Bananas

  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Asparagus
fruit and vegetables illustration
Download Chart

For questions about lowering your cholesterol, talk to a Marshfield Clinic Health System provider.

Schedule appointment Message your provider

  1. Jul 15, 2022
  2. Dec 1, 2021
  3. Oct 12, 2021
  4. Jun 16, 2021
  5. Mar 28, 2021
  6. Dec 18, 2020
  7. Oct 15, 2020
  8. Jul 16, 2020
    • Jul 16, 2020
    • Jul 26, 2020
      • Jul 26, 2020
      • Jul 27, 2020
      • Sep 1, 2020
      • Sep 2, 2020
    • Sep 24, 2020
  9. Apr 21, 2020
    • Aug 14, 2020
  10. Feb 5, 2020
    • Feb 5, 2020
      • Feb 5, 2020
  11. Nov 22, 2019
    • Nov 22, 2019
    • Feb 3, 2020
      • Feb 4, 2020
  12. Oct 15, 2019
  13. Oct 3, 2019
  14. Sep 24, 2019
    • Sep 27, 2019
  15. Sep 19, 2019
    • Nov 22, 2019
  16. Jun 30, 2019
    • Jul 2, 2019
    • Aug 21, 2019
      • Sep 18, 2019
    • Sep 26, 2019
      • Oct 3, 2019
    • Oct 14, 2019
      • Oct 15, 2019
  17. Apr 13, 2019
    • Apr 15, 2019
    • Jun 4, 2019
  18. Nov 22, 2016
    • Nov 22, 2016

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

View our comment policy