Diet can certainly play a major role in lowering your cholesterol and maintaining your heart health. Along with eating a well balanced diet, regular exercise and some heart healthy habits can keep your LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein, aka “bad”) cholesterol in check. Many people prefer a natural way to lower cholesterol including eating certain foods. Here are 5 foods to help lower your cholesterol.

1) Oatmeal/Steel-Cut Oats - Contains soluble fiber which helps reduce the absorption of cholesterol in your bloodstream. Fruit makes a great heart healthy topping too.
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2) Beans/Legumes – Contain protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber with no added fat or cholesterol. They also count toward your daily vegetable servings to support good health. They provide folate and are a good source of the minerals potassium, iron and magnesium.
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3) Fish/Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Eating one to two servings of fish a week could reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by a third or more. The benefits of eating fish, such as salmon, herring and tuna, usually outweigh the possible risks of exposure to contaminants. Broiling or baking the fish will provide the most heart healthy benefits versus frying.
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4) Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pecans & peanuts) – they contain both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which help to lower bad cholesterol levels. They also contain fiber and vitamin E. Nuts make a great snack food at home or on the run.
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5) Olive Oil – contains large amounts of omega-9 fatty acid called oleic acid and can provide significant health benefits, including the ability to help reduce pain and inflammation. Drizzle some on top of salads and use for cooking and sautéing.
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Cut back on the cholesterol and total fat, especially saturated and trans fats, that you consume. Saturated fats, like those in meat, full-fat dairy products and some oils, assist in raising your total cholesterol. Trans fats, which are sometimes found in margarine and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes, are particularly bad for your cholesterol levels. Be sure to check the labels of food products stating “hydrogenated” – which is a trans fat, but not labeled as such. Trans fats raise the LDL cholesterol and lower HDL (high-density lipoprotein, aka  the “good” cholesterol).

By incorporating the above foods into your daily diet and a few heart healthy changes to your lifestyle you will be able to lower your LDL and maintain good HDL cholesterol levels.