Cholesterol is a fat that is naturally present in a lot of food and is necessary to an extent for the normal functioning of the body. However, high cholesterol levels, especially Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL), can lead to heart disease, and the best way to keep cholesterol levels in check is to maintain a healthy diet. Regular consumption of a few superfoods can help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels and also improve your heart health.

Here are seven such superfoods to include in your daily diet:

1. Nuts
Nuts, especially walnuts, almonds, and peanuts, are among the most important superfoods for high cholesterol. Studies show that eating even 2-3 servings of nuts daily can lower LDL cholesterol by almost 10.2 mg/dl. Additionally, nuts are packed with phytosterols, which lower cholesterol absorption in the intestines. They also contain calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which help lower the risk of heart disease.

2. Fatty fish
Fish are an excellent source of omega-3s, making them a superfood for managing high cholesterol. Omega-3 fats help reduce triglycerides and prevent arrhythmia. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are some fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which lower LDL cholesterol and help increase HDL or good cholesterol.

3. Whole grains
Oats, barley, bran, and other whole grains are also beneficial for managing high blood cholesterol. They are packed with a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which helps reduce bad cholesterol levels.

4. Beans
Another beta-glucan rich food, beans lower bad cholesterol and aid weight management by keeping one feeling full for longer. This helps as obesity is one of the primary risk factors for heart disease. Lentils, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and even garbanzo beans help boost heart health.

5. Vegetables
Most vegetables are excellent sources of pectin, a soluble fiber that reduces LDL cholesterol levels in the body. Okra, carrots, potatoes, and eggplants are among the vegetables that have the highest pectin levels. Dark leafy greens are considered superfoods for high cholesterol. They contain lutein, which binds to bile acids and makes the body excrete excess cholesterol.

6. Fruits
Apples, berries, bananas, oranges, and several other fruits are also abundant sources of pectin, and they help reduce cholesterol levels. Apart from this fiber, fruits are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and several bioactive compounds that help prevent heart disease and several other health issues.

7. Soy
Soy is another superfood for high cholesterol, and consuming soy in the form of milk or tofu can help decrease the chances of heart disease. Research indicates that eating even 25 gms of soy can lower LDL cholesterol levels by 5-6 percent.

Eating just one of these foods every day is not enough. It’s best to follow a balanced diet that incorporates several of these food items. Besides, certain foods like trans fats, sugary items, and junk foods are best left out of one’s diet, as they increase cholesterol levels. Also, many health professionals recommend getting enough exercise and keeping stress at bay to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.