Health & Wellness

How Your Diet Can Help Lower Your Cholesterol

What you eat has a big effect on your cholesterol levels. Munch on these foods to fight inflammation and prevent plaque build-up.
cholesterol-lowering salad and salmon lunch

Photo credit: deryabinka/Shutterstock.com

Colleen Travers

By 

Colleen Travers,   

Feb 4, 2020 • 4 min read

Share Blog on FacebookShare Blog on TwitterShare Blog on LinkedInShare Blog via Email

If you’re on cholesterol-lowering medication like atorvastatin (Lipitor) or simvastatin (Zocor), you may think as long as you take your meds and make it a point to move more throughout the day, you’re managing your condition as best as you can. But your diet can also have a big impact on your total cholesterol.

“Your cholesterol levels could be elevated for a number of reasons,” says Kathryn Hughes, RDN, a registered dietitian at Stony Brook Research Foundation in Commack, NY. “Genetics, certain medications you may be taking, and your physical activity all play a part. But your diet is extremely important, because what you eat can directly decrease LDL “bad” cholesterol and increase HDL “good” cholesterol.” Here, Hughes shares a cheat sheet on exactly what to eat so that you can lower your cholesterol and perhaps over time, stop taking your cholesterol medication all together.

What Is Cholesterol?

“Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood,” says Hughes. “Your liver makes cholesterol, but we also consume it from our food.” Our bodies require a small amount of cholesterol to help build out cell structures, make hormones, and keep our metabolism humming along, but too much cholesterol in the blood (specifically LDL “bad” cholesterol) can stick to arteries, causing them to narrow and increasing the risk of heart attack and/or stroke. When this excess of LDL cholesterol is produced, the HDL “good” cholesterol can’t keep up with its job of sweeping LDL from your blood and back to your liver to be removed from the body.

High-Cholesterol Foods to Steer Clear Of

Statin medications work by reducing the liver’s production of cholesterol. But if you’re eating foods that contribute to LDL cholesterol production, the statin won’t be as effective as it should be. “To improve your cholesterol, first minimize your intake of certain animal products, such as fatty meats, cheese, high-fat dairy like ice cream, as well as fried foods and commercial baked goods,” says Hughes. “These foods tend to cause inflammation, which can eventually cause an increase in LDL cholesterol.” She adds that while foods like eggs and shellfish do have high amounts of cholesterol, it is primarily the HDL “good” kind that your body needs to help lower LDL. Both foods are also low in saturated fat, which studies show has a greater negative impact on cholesterol levels.

Foods to Eat to Lower Your Cholesterol

“Two nutrients important for improving cholesterol levels are fiber and omega-3 fatty acids,” says Hughes. That’s because soluble fiber (which absorbs water and turns into a gel-like substance during digestion) will help pull cholesterol out of the bloodstream, while omega-3 fatty acids raise HDL cholesterol levels and decrease triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood that can also contribute to narrowing the arteries). To manage your cholesterol levels, Hughes recommends making sure to eat a diet filled with the following foods:

  • Whole grains, including oats, barley, quinoa, and bulgur 

  • Apples

  • Avocados

  • Strawberries

  • Grapes

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Carrots

  • Dark, leafy greens, such as kale and spinach

  • Legumes, including beans, peas, and lentils

  • Nuts and seeds, including almonds, walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds

  • Salmon (choose wild over farm-raised for higher levels of omega-3s)

If I Change My Diet, Will I Be Able to Get Off My Cholesterol Medication?

“For some individuals, a low-dose cholesterol medication will always be needed to manage cholesterol levels, especially  if other factors are at play, such as age, family history, and other medications the patient is taking,” says Hughes. “However, with proper lifestyle changes, it is absolutely possible to no longer need cholesterol medication.” 

Changes won’t happen overnight, so make sure to stay on top of your doctor’s appointments and discuss the lifestyle changes you’ve been making. This way, your provider can regularly monitor your cholesterol levels and assess whether you might be able to lower your dose or stop taking your cholesterol medication completely.

As you and your healthcare provider establish or revise your treatment plan, check to see if your prescription is available for less with Blink Health.

· · ·

This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.

Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 1407 Broadway, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018, 1 (844) 265-6444, www.blinkhealth.com.

· · ·

Try the app now

FAQs • Contact Us
Our support team is available Monday through Friday 8AM - 10PM EST, and Saturday and Sunday 9AM - 7PM EST.

Blink Health will always honor the price reflected at the time you purchased your medication. Your final price is based on the medication you pick up at the pharmacy. If you pick up a different form, dosage, or quantity, you will be charged or credited the difference. Blink Health reserves the right to cancel a transaction and refund you if the underlying cost of the prescription drug changes significantly after you have purchased your medication. Blink Health reserves the right to change its prescription drug prices in real time based on supply and demand trends and other factors. Any savings claims made by Blink are based on U.S. retail prices without prescription drug coverage. *Retail Prices (Cash Prices) vary among pharmacies. The Retail Prices displayed are estimates based on multiple sources, including price lists, historical claims and data provided by pharmacies. Our Price Match Guarantee covers generic drugs. Additional conditions apply. For more details visit our Price Match page. †Delivery may be subject to delays. Free shipping is available for most orders through USPS first class shipping. If an order is placed, or if a delivery period falls, on a USPS holiday, the delivery time window will be extended by additional days, as applicable. No deliveries on Sunday or USPS holidays. Home delivery orders ship from a licensed, US based pharmacy after a valid prescription has been received. No home delivery orders will ship without a valid prescription written by a prescriber. Blink Health's pharmacy team will transfer prescriptions from other pharmacies or prescribers. Home delivery orders may be subject to delays if those pharmacies or prescribers do not immediately respond to requests to transfer prescriptions to Blink Health's pharmacy team. ‡Promotional offer excludes opioids, E.D. (i.e. sildenafil, tadalafil and generics Viagra and Cialis) and hair loss medications (i.e. finasteride, generic Propecia), and any orders that include online doctor visits for E.D., hair loss, birth control, cold sores, high cholesterol or acid reflux. Cannot be combined with other offers. Blink Health is not sponsored by or affiliated with any of the pharmacies identified. The pharmacy trademarks and logos above are the property of their respective owners. Blink Health is not offering advice, recommending or endorsing any specific prescription drug, pharmacy or other information. Please seek medical advice before starting, changing or terminating any medication or prescription.

Disclosures: Blink Health is NOT insurance or a Medicare prescription drug plan. Users are obligated to pay the price presented during the checkout process. Blink Health is available to users at participating pharmacies only. No enrollment or periodic fees apply. Our address is 1407 Broadway, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018, 1 (844) 265 - 6444, www.blinkhealth.com.