Impress your doctor: These foods will lower your cholesterol

From fish to nuts to beans, these foods can improve your health

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol raises your risk of both heart disease and stroke.

Also known as bad cholesterol, LDL cholesterol can buildup around blood vessels in what is known as “plaque.” This plaque is what makes bad cholesterol such a health hazard. Luckily, there are ways to both lower and prevent high levels of bad cholesterol — potentially avoiding deadly health risks in the process. While regular exercise is integral to lowering bad cholesterol, the foods you choose to eat can also have a huge effect on your LDL cholesterol levels.

Fish and poultry

In order to lower bad cholesterol, the American Heart Association recommends limiting red meat consumption in favor of eating more fish and poultry. In the end, when in comes to eating meat, the important step is to lower your total saturated fat intake.

“Fish can be fatty or lean, but it’s still low in saturated fat,” the association reported. “Eat at least 8 ounces of non-fried fish each week. Choose oily fish such as salmon, trout and herring, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Prepare fish baked, broiled, grilled or boiled rather than breaded and fried, and without added salt, saturated fat or trans fat. Non-fried fish and shellfish, such as shrimp, crab and lobster, are low in saturated fat and are a healthy alternative to many cuts of meat and poultry.”

Nuts, beans, whole grains and fruit

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute created the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) program in order to promote a LDL cholesterol-lowering diet. As well as warning against the dangers of consuming too many saturated fats, the institute reported that the plant stanols found in nuts and the soluble fiber found in beans, fruits and whole grains can actively lower bad cholesterol.

“To help lower cholesterol levels more, the TLC Diet recommends adding soluble fiber and plant stanols and sterols to daily meals,” the institute reported. “Soluble fiber blocks cholesterol and fats from being absorbed through intestinal walls into the bloodstream. As with soluble fiber, plant stanols and sterols help block the absorption of cholesterol from the digestive tract, which helps to lower LDL cholesterol.”