The world’s leading cause of death is heart disease, with high cholesterol linked to an increased risk of developing this condition.

Most people think about foods to avoid when they want to lower their cholesterol. However, there are also certain foods that can lower cholesterol.

Consider these heart-healthy foods:

  1. Legumes. Legumes include food such as beans, soybeans, peas, and lentils. They contain lots of fiber, protein, and minerals.
    • Consider this healthy idea: replace refined grains and processed meat with legumes and you can lower your risk of developing heart disease.
  2. Avocados. These fruits are a rich source of monounsaturated fats and fiber, both of which can help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol levels (HDL).
  3. Nuts. Nuts such as almonds and walnuts are full of monounsaturated fats. They also contain phytosterols, which are a plant compound that can help lower cholesterol. It does this by blocking its absorption in your intestines.
    • Almonds are a good source of L-arginine, which is an amino acid that helps regulate your blood pressure.
    • Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fats linked to good heart health.
  4. Fatty fish. Fatty fish like salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids that can increase good cholesterol, which will help to lower inflammation and also reduce the risk of suffering a stroke. It is also believed that fish protein has certain peptides that help to protect your heart.
  5. Whole grains. Whole grains, in particular oats and barley, have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease with both found to contain beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol.
  6. Fruits and berries. These are another source of soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol. Fruit is also a good source of bioactive compounds that contain various antioxidants with anti-inflammatory benefits. These can help prevent heart disease and other chronic diseases.
  7. Dark chocolate. The main ingredient in dark chocolate, cocoa, has been proven to lower bad cholesterol. It can also reduce blood pressure too.
    • The one issue with chocolate is that it is high in added sugar, which can have a negative impact on your heart health. This is why it’s healthier to opt for dark chocolate with a cocoa content above 75%.
  8. Garlic. Garlic contains numerous healthy plant compounds, which include allicin. Research has found that garlic can help reduce cholesterol and may help to lower the blood pressure in people who currently have high blood pressure.
  9. Vegetables. Vegetables are a good source of fiber and antioxidants. They are also low in calories, so they’re also essential if you are looking to keep slim and healthy.
  10. Teas. Teas such as green tea, black tea, and white tea contain two compounds shown to improve heart health.
    • Catechins are one of these compounds and this has been shown to promote healthy blood pressure.
    • The second compound is called quercetin, which may improve the function of your blood vessels and lower inflammation.
  11. Dark leafy greens. Greens like kale and spinach are a good source of lutein and various other carotenoids, with both being linked to a reduced risk of developing heart disease.
    • Lutein has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol and prevent cholesterol from binding to your artery walls.
    • Carotenoids on the other hand help to remove free radicals from your system, which will prevent hardening of the arteries.

These heart-healthy foods will help to lower cholesterol levels. Add them to your weekly shopping list for meals that can help your longevity and quality of life.