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What Foods to Eat for: High Cholesterol

Culinary guidance to keep your heart and arteries happy

woman yogurt What it is: Hypercholesterolemia means that you have a high level of cholesterol in your blood. It can lead to inflammation and hardening of the arteries, which can cause impotence, premature wrinkling, memory loss, a heart attack or stroke.

You are at increased risk if you:

  • are a man over the age of 45

  • are a woman over the age of 55 (especially if you have gone through menopause)

  • are overweight

  • are sedentary

  • are a smoker

  • have low thyroid gland activity, diabetes, or a kidney or liver disorder

  • have a family history of high cholesterol

  • take certain drugs such as drugs for high blood pressure, endocrine drugs, female hormones, steroids, or dermatologic drugs

Foods to increase:

  • Black tea. In one study, five cups a day for three weeks reduced LDL cholesterol by 7.5 percent.

  • Dark chocolate. In a Finnish study, 2.5 ounces a day for three weeks increased HDL cholesterol by between 11.4 percent and 13.7 percent.

  • Yogurt. In a study, people who ate just under seven ounces of yogurt a day for four weeks reduced blood cholesterol by 2.9 percent, perhaps because of yogurt’s probiotics.

  • Cinnamon. Barely a teaspoon daily for four weeks lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol between 7 percent and 27 percent in 60 people with type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity.

  • Ground flaxseed. About 1.8 ounces a day over four weeks reduced LDL in people with normal cholesterol by 8 percent and significantly decreased both total cholesterol and LDL levels, probably because of its phytosterol content and lignan content. Two tablespoons twice daily is a maximal dose.


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