Fill Up On This Type Of Fruit To Lower Your High Cholesterol

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Having high cholesterol is one of the primary risk factors for the condition. If your total cholesterol levels exceed 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), your cholesterol is considered high. About 7% of youth between the ages of 6 and 19 meet this diagnostic criteria, as do 86 million adults at least 20 years of age.

Getting regular exercise, reducing stress, and minimizing one's alcohol intake can help keep cholesterol levels within a normal range. Maintaining a healthy diet can do the same. This includes prioritizing fiber-rich foods and keeping those packed with saturated fats, sodium, or sugar to a minimum. While fruit does contain natural sugar, it's not as much as you would find in modified foods like sugary cereals or packaged breads, for example (via Nebraska Medicine). In fact, there are certain fruits that may actually benefit those of us with high cholesterol: fruits with high amounts of pectin (via Harvard Health Publishing).

What is pectin?

Naturally found in nearly all plant life, pectin is a water-soluble substance that is converted from an insoluble substance known as protopectin as the fruit ripens (via Comprehensive Natural Products II). Pectin can be found in the cell walls of lemons, apples, and oranges, with citrus fruit housing a pectin content of anywhere between 0.5% and 3.5% within the peel.

Pectin is thought to have a number of health benefits. This includes boosting our glucose metabolism, gastric emptying, and the ability to ward off various health conditions such as cancer, obesity, intestinal infections, and more. So what is pectin's relationship to cholesterol? Pectin has been shown to improve the body's lipid metabolism and cholesterol levels due to its ability to boost fibrin quality in the body, which plays an important role in blood clotting. In one study, more than 20 participants ate 15 grams of pectin-enriched biscuits every day for 21 days. By the end of the three weeks, participant total cholesterol levels dropped by an average of 5%.

Incorporate grapes, apples, and more into your diet to help lower cholesterol

For these reasons, experts suggest those with high cholesterol consider incorporating pectin-rich fruits into their diet. Specifically, apples, strawberries, grapes, and citrus fruits (via Harvard Health Publishing). Of course, fruit is not the only food group one should target when attempting to lower LDL cholesterol. Whole grains, nuts, fatty fish, and legumes are other foods that can support healthy cholesterol levels. Narrowing these categories down even further to specific food items, go for okra, eggplant, and black-eyed peas, or opt for canola or sunflower oil over lard or butter.

In addition to eating a well-rounded diet, remember to take any cholesterol medication as prescribed. Quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight can also support our cholesterol health. Finally, make sure you're keeping up with routine doctor exams. For those who are not at risk for cardiovascular issues, cholesterol levels may only need to be checked every four to six years, reports the CDC. However, this does not apply to everyone, so be sure to consult with your physician to develop a personalized healthcare plan.