The Top Cholesterol Cutting Foods

Harvard Medical School has recommended 11 foods that can help lower cholesterol in a multi-pronged approach.

The list contains a variety of foods that are all capable of lowering cholesterol but in different ways. Many of these foods were also highlighted in Dr. Cherry's May 20 KCEO radio program (read the Program Summary or listen to the audio ).

The foods belong to three categories:

• Those that deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation;
• Polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL, and;
• Those containing plant sterols and stenols that block cholesterol absorption.

The 11 cholesterol-fighting foods recommended by Harvard are:

1. Oats
2. Barley and other whole grains
3. Beans
4. Eggplant and Okra
5. Nuts
6. Vegetable oils
7. Apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits
8. Foods fortified with sterols and stanols
9. Soy
10. Fatty fish
11. Fiber supplements

Specific recommendations by the Harvard Medical School include:

• Turning to oat-based cereals to boost consumption of oats to the recommended level of 20 to 35 grams a day. The average American only gets about half that amount. Fiber supplements, beans, whole grains, oats, eggplant and okra are other soluble fiber alternatives on the list.

• Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can reduce LDL by about 5 percent

• By eating 25 grams of soy protein (10 ounces of tofu and 2.5 cups of soy milk) per day, you can lower LDL by 5 % as well.

• Adding two grams of plant stenols or sterols per day can lower LDL by about 10 percent.

When comes to deciding on which foods to choose from, Harvard Medical School – as does Dr. Cherry, in his discussion of the Portfolio Diet – advises people to take a broad approach. Just as investors should have a wide portfolio to cut risks, people should eat from a wide portfolio of cholesterol fighting foods to reduce the risk of heart disease.