A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Feeding your heart: Foods to help lower cholesterol

Avocado on a cutting board - Foods to help lower cholesterol

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

Cholesterol is a material produced in the liver that your body needs to make hormones, vitamin D and other substances. Two types are in the body: Good and bad.

Bad cholesterol is called LDL cholesterol and too much of it in the body can increase risk of heart disease, says Paula McIntyre, a Marshfield Clinic registered dietitian.

“Higher levels of LDL cholesterol can be deposited in the arteries, which narrows them and increases heart disease risk,” she said.

Cholesterol also can come from foods we eat, so feeding your heart the right foods is an important way to lower bad cholesterol levels.

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

Healthy fats

“Foods that can increase bad cholesterol usually 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 two percent 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, which in turn lowers bad cholesterol.

Fiber up

Another nutrient that helps lower cholesterol is fiber, especially soluble fiber. Fiber allows the body to get rid of cholesterol. A daily intake of 5-10 grams of soluble fiber is recommended.

Oatmeal is a great soluble fiber that can really help lower cholesterol. Soy products like edamame also are high in soluble fiber.

McIntyre says another great source of fiber to lower cholesterol 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 though 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, sweet potatoes and asparagus.

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

Every person is different, so you may require a different meal plan. For the best results, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian 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
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