Low-Cholesterol Shopping List

Whether you're one of the 17% of Americans who has high cholesterol, or you're just looking to lower your heart-disease risk, we've got healthy shopping tips to help you keep your arteries clear.

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The next time you visit your grocery store, keep an eye out for these cholesterol-lowering foods:

Bananas: Bananas contain a healthy serving of soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.

Salmon: Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help to slow plaque buildup in your arteries. They also help raise levels of HDL, the protective "good" cholesterol, and lower triglycerides.

Sardines: Like salmon, sardines contain a good dose of those artery-protecting omega-3 fatty acids.

Olive oil: Olive oil contains antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to lower LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. Pick extra-virgin olive oil for the biggest effect.

Garlic: Whole garlic may help to prevent oxidation of LDL, which helps limit cholesterol's damaging effects on our vessel walls.

Spinach: Lutein, a pigment found in some vegetables including spinach, has been shown to prevent cholesterol accumulation in arteries. Spinach also contains vitamin E, which helps prevent plaque buildup.

Grapes: Like bananas, grapes also contain soluble fiber, which helps decrease dietary absorption of cholesterol. An antioxidant compound found in red grapes may also help lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides.

Dark chocolate: In some people, antioxidants such as flavanols that are found in dark chocolate may lower LDL, as well as lower blood pressure and increase blood flow to the brain and heart.

Avocado: Good fats in avocados help to boost good cholesterol, which helps protect arteries from the effects of bad cholesterol. It also contains beta-sitosterol, which can help reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food.

Japanese eggplant: Japanese eggplant is packed with cholesterol-lowering fiber and contains several compounds that may work to lower LDL.