Phytosterols are compounds found in plants that have a chemical structure similar to cholesterol, and when present in the diet in sufficient amounts, reduce blood levels of cholesterol, enhance the immune response, and decrease risks of certain cancers. Their effects are so dramatic that they have been added to processed foods such as imitation butter and touted as cholesterol- lowering.
Sesame seeds have the highest total phytosterol content of all nuts and seeds, followed by pistachio, sunflower and pumpkin. English walnuts and Brazil nuts have the lowest.
Pumpkin seed oil packs whopping amounts of vitamins – A, B1, B2, B6, C, D, E and K as well as the minerals magnesium, calcium, and iron. Pumpkin seed oil can lower cholesterol and ease symptoms of arthritis.
Oats and Barley are packed with fiber. Soluble fiber seems to reduce the amount of cholesterol the body absorbs from the intestines, lowering total cholesterol and LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the process.
Fish – The right seafood can lower cholesterol. You are replacing meat in your diet, and meat contains more LDL-boosting saturated fats. Fish like salmon, sardines and albacore tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids, shown to lower triglycerides.
Nuts – Toss in salads, sprinkle on oatmeal, or snack them by the handful. Just about any variety of nuts can lower total cholesterol, LDL and triglyceride levels.
Olive Oil – Swapping saturated fats for unsaturated fats in oils can help reduce total cholesterol. Olive oil in particular may increase HDL, or “good” cholesterol
Apples – A medium-sized apple contains about 4 grams of LDL-lowering soluble fiber – 17 percent recommended daily intake. An apple a day keeps the heart doctor away!
Strawberries are rich in pectin, a soluble fiber that can lower LDL.
Citrus Fruits – You find pectin in oranges, grapefruits and other citrus fruits. Adding more fiber to your diet can lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
Beans And Lentils – Beans and lentils are great sources of soluble fiber, which keeps you full and can reduce cholesterol. People who ate a half-cup of beans a day over a 24-week period lowered their cholesterol by 8 percent.
Soy is a great source of protein and cholesterol free. A 2010 study found that eating soy can result in a moderate 8 to 10 percent decrease in total cholesterol.
Red Wine may be particularly beneficial, since it’s rich in antioxidants, which may lower LDL levels.
Avocados are rich in cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats may lower LDL and raise HDL. Replace unhealthier dietary fats with these heart-healthy ones.
Green tea – While it appears to lower “bad” cholesterol, it’s only a slight reduction. — and you’d probably have to drink quite a few mugs full to see a difference. Chugging green tea isn’t a good idea for everyone; it can interfere with some medications.