10 Foods To Increase “Good” Cholesterol

by Emily Harland, RDN, CSO, LDN

Last Updated: February 17, 2021

When you think of cholesterol, you likely think about “bad” cholesterol or high cholesterol. However, did you know that there is a good type of cholesterol? HDL cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein is the good kind of cholesterol that your body needs. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad cholesterol we often want to lower. HDL cholesterol helps your body remove LDL cholesterol from your blood and prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. Having a healthy HDL cholesterol level can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, and certain foods can help raise your HDL levels. Keep reading to find out.
  1. Fruit and vegetables.
    Produce is an excellent source of soluble fiber, which can help to lower LDL cholesterol and, in turn, raise your HDL levels.
  2. Olive oil.
    The type of heart-healthy fat found in olives and olive oil can lower LDL cholesterol’s inflammatory impact on your body. Use the oil in salad dressings, sauces and to flavor foods once cooked.
  3. Whole grains.
    Whole grains, including whole wheat bread, cereals, brown rice, and quinoa, may lower your LDL and total cholesterol. This, in turn, gives your HDL levels a percentage boost. Whole grains contain fiber — specifically soluble fiber, which is shown to help lower LDL.
  4. Fatty fish.
    Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, can lower your LDL. Look for fattier options, such as salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, sardines, and rainbow trout. Aim for two servings of fish per week.
  5. Nuts.
    Nuts, including almonds, pistachios, peanuts, and others, are filled with heart-healthy fats. They are also high in fiber and contain a substance called plant sterols, which block the absorption of cholesterol in your body.
  6. Avocado.
    Avocados are high in folate, a healthy monounsaturated fat. This type of fat lowers LDL and reduces your risk for stroke, heart attack, and heart disease. They’re also filled with fiber, which naturally helps keep cholesterol in check.
  7. Beans and legumes.
    Like whole grains, beans and legumes are great soluble fiber sources. Reach for black beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, navy beans, lentils, and others.
  8. Flaxseed.
    Flaxseed is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, an anti-inflammatory fat. Ground flaxseed has been shown to increase HDL levels in animal studies. Try tossing a tablespoon of flaxseed into your smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal.
  9. Chia seeds.
    Chia seeds are a good source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and other healthy nutrients. Like flax seeds, chia seeds are great when added to cereal, oatmeal, dips, salads, yogurt, or smoothies.
  10. Edamame.
    These delicious and totally snack-able soybeans are packed with protein and fiber and can make a great substitute for meat in soups, salads, and even pasta dishes. Reducing your overall meat consumption can be another great way to lower LDL and raise HDL when replacing meat with other high fiber foods.

Eating a balance of these foods can help make an overall difference in your cholesterol levels over time. If you have additional questions about ways to improve your cholesterol, contact one of our Kroger Health Dietitians today.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.


Emily Harland, RDN, CSO, LDN

Emily Harland, RDN, CSO, LDN

Emily is a passionate clinical dietitian who strives to make nutrition changes sustainable while improving peoples’ relationship with food. She makes every effort to get to know each one of her clients on a personal level to ensure whole-person care. Emily is specialized in nutrition for oncology and cancer prevention/treatment. She has expertise from diabetes and heart health to hormonal health and fertility issues. Emily is an avid indoor cyclist and loves spending time in the kitchen cooking up nutritious and energizing meals.