Low Cholesterol Diet: Harvard Health experts’ list manage LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels for healthy heart

The moment we hear cholesterol, we think of heart disease and an impending heart attack. While it is not that far away from truth, the fact remains that cholesterol is essential for human body. However, high levels of cholesterol can cause a series of health concerns, including thickening of arteries known as atherosclerosis, which in turn can cause a whole lot of problems including heart attack or stroke. Low Cholesterol Diet, in turn, is essential to improve overall health and keep cholesterol levels under check. To manage this, Harvard Health experts have released a list of foods that can help manage cholesterol levels in the body and even reduce high cholesterol.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a form of lipid. Our body has three kinds of lipids or fat molecules – HDL, LDL and Triglycerides produced by animals. The body makes all three from the food that we eat. HDL or High Density Lipoproteins are good for the body and essential as they carry the necessary lipids or fat molecules through the blood stream. These fat molecules or lipids are essential for normal working of the body and desirable but a low cholesterol diet would also suffice as the body is able to make enough for its use.  

LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein, on the other hand, is the dangerous twin. Another type of lipo-protein, it too carried lipids. LDL is ‘Bad Cholesterol’ as the fats carried by the LDL can build up on the arterial walls and cause the many heart problems and concerns. HDL, in fact, helps remove the LDL from the blood stream to the liver from where it is removed by the body, thus cleaning your arteries.

Triglycerides, another type of lipid molecules are different from the cholesterol and are used as energy reserves. Eating more than what your body needs often leads to accumulation of triglycerides in the body as the excess calories are converted and stored in fat cells.

High Cholesterol: What is it and what are its ill effect

If your doctor has shared that you have high cholesterol, it essentially means that the level of LDL and Triglycerides in your body are higher than recommended. It may also be because of lower amounts of HDL or good cholesterol in your body, which in turn is hampering the body’s process of removing extra LDL and triglycerides from your blood stream.

High cholesterol levels are not recommended as they can lead to thickening of your blood vessels (arteries) and lead to a series of problems. From high blood pressure to coronary heart diseases, angina, heart attack or even stroke. Hence, it is important to keep your cholesterol levels under check.

Also Read | Heart Disease and Diabetes: What is the connection between the two?(Opens in a new browser tab)

Low Cholesterol Diet: Harvard Health Expert’s list of foods to eat to lower LDL

Our body makes cholesterol from what we eat. Accordingly, managing our diet is the primary to managing cholesterol. In a recent study published by Harvard Medical School has listed foods that help lower. So when planning, try to include these foods in your daily meal plans to ensure a low cholesterol diet.


Oats are an excellent source of dietary fiber in the body. A bowl of oats in the morning is a rich source of beta-glucan (β-glucan), a soluble fibre, which binds cholesterol with rich bile acids in the intestine. Because of this, the fat molecules pass tract.

Barley and other whole grains:

Whole grains are excellent sources of soluble fibre. Apart from oats, barley is an excellent addition in your diet. Barley along with other high fibre grains like quinoa, Kamut, teff are also excellent and can help in reducing the cholesterol levels in your body.


Rich in proteins and fiber, beans can help in maintaining your cholesterol level as well as helping in managing your weight as well. Choose from the wide variety of beans like navy and kidney beans to lentils, black-eyed peas, to improve your overall health.

Eggplant and okra:

That’s right. The humble ‘Baingan’ and ‘Bhindi’ are excellent vegetables if you are fighting cholesterol. These two are rich in soluble fibre – the magic sponge for cholesterol and can be eaten with the roti or in the form of stew. Other vegetables which are also good alternatives are sweet potato, broccoli.


Nuts are just magnificent when it comes to overall health. Rich in essential fatty acids and unsaturated fats, these increase the HDL in the body and are also good source of fiber. Apart from this, they are also a powerhouse of important minerals like magnesium, potassium and  natural plant sterols. All these help your body and keep it healthy.

Apart from these, they have also recommended fruits. Almost all fruits including are an excellent source of pectin. Include like apples, grapes, strawberries, avocados, papaya in the diet. Pectin is another type of soluble fiber and lowers LDL in the body. Also, try including soy and fatty fish for their multi-health benefits including essential omega-3 fatty acids and high protein content.

Remember, diet is not enough. Sedentary lifestyle, disorders like diabetes and hypothyroidism can all lead to an increased cholesterol in your body. Regular exercise and an active lifestyle, hence, is the key to managing cholesterol along with eating healthy and staying happy.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet. For personalized diet plan, please contact the author on the number shared.

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