5 Cholesterol-Lowering Diets

You’ve probably heard that a healthy diet can help lower cholesterol. The American Heart Association says that while you should get your HDL (or “good”) cholesterol from food, your body produces all of your LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol.

5 Cholesterol-Lowering Diets - Photo by Dan Gold
5 Cholesterol-Lowering Diets – Photo by Dan Gold

But the typical Western diet is high in LDL and triglycerides, a type of blood fat. So, eating too much of these can cause high cholesterol.

Of course, other factors like genetics play a role in high cholesterol. But you can control your diet, and a healthy, low-cholesterol diet can improve your overall health.

According to Portland, Oregon-based certified diabetes educator Megan Porter, RD, LD, diet plays a major role in managing heart disease risk. “It can also help lower high cholesterol or keep cholesterol levels healthy throughout your life.”

Diets to Lower Cholesterol

The following eating plans do not restrict food intake or cause constant hunger, but rather emphasize certain healthy food groups over others. They also help lower cholesterol, according to studies.

Consider one of these eating plans to lower your cholesterol.

1. Mediterranean Diet

There are more plant-based foods and monounsaturated fat (healthy fat) from olive oil in this diet than meat and dairy products. “Small amounts of red wine are allowed,” Porter says.

A 2019 review of Mediterranean diet studies found that the diet can help lower LDL and raise HDL. “The diet’s anti-inflammatory effects are thought to be responsible for the heart benefits,” says Porter.

Want to give it a shot? Eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, with some seafood, lean protein and dairy.

2. DASH diet

The DASH diet is designed to help lower high blood pressure and cholesterol. A low-salt diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet but emphasizes reducing salt intake to help lower blood pressure.

A DASH diet was associated with a 40% lower risk of heart failure, according to an American Journal of Preventive Medicine study published in April 2019.

3. TLC for your diet

The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet was created by the National Cholesterol Education Program of the NIH to help lower cholesterol. “This isn’t just a diet; it’s a comprehensive lifestyle approach,” Porter explains.

The TLC diet emphasizes whole grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and lean proteins over processed meat, pastries, and butter. The TLC diet has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and weight.

Your doctor or a dietitian can help you decide which of the Mediterranean, DASH, or TLC diets is best for you.

4. Vegetarian diet

A vegetarian diet consists of whole grains, dairy, eggs, fruits, vegetables, soy products, and nuts. “A long-term vegetarian diet is associated with many health benefits, including weight loss, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure,” Porter says.

A vegetarian diet reduced cholesterol and reduced the risk of dying from coronary artery disease by 25%, according to a 2017 study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

5. Vegan diet

A vegan diet excludes all animal products such as eggs, dairy, gelatin, and whey. The vegan diet has been linked to weight loss, reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and premature death, according to Porter.

Vegans had lower LDL and triglyceride levels than meat eaters, according to a 2018 PLoS One study.

A dietitian can help you get started on a vegetarian or vegan diet. They can teach you the right food combinations to get enough protein, calcium, and iron.

Following one of these healthy diets can help lower your cholesterol and make you feel better while keeping you full and satisfied.

Must Read