Oatmeal, salmon, walnuts, almonds and olive oil are among the foods used to lower cholesterol, according to Mayo Clinic. Foods containing plant stanols or sterols have also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels.
The soluble fiber found in oatmeal prevents absorption of cholesterol into the blood. Consuming 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber each day reduces low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and total cholesterol, reports Mayo Clinic. LDL cholesterol is the type of cholesterol that increases the risk for heart disease. Salmon is good for heart health because it contains omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids have been linked to lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of blood clots. Herring, albacore tuna, halibut, sardines and mackerel also have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Eating a handful of unsalted nuts each day may reduce the risk of heart disease, according to Mayo Clinic. Walnuts are particularly helpful because they contain compounds that keep the blood vessels in good health. Olive oil pulls double duty by reducing LDL levels and increasing the amount of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, in the blood. This oil is good for the heart because it also has high levels of antioxidants. Stanols and sterols, which are naturally occurring substances in various plants, prevent the digestive system from absorbing cholesterol, so eating foods containing these substances helps reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Many manufacturers add stanols and sterols to margarine, yogurt drinks, orange juice and other products.