Oatmeal, oat bran and other high-fiber foods, fish and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, and olive oil can all help lower cholesterol levels, according to Mayo Clinic. Choosing healthier fats is also important to lowering HDL numbers.
Around 25 to 35 percent of total daily calories in the diet should come from fat, but only 7 percent of total daily calories should come from saturated fats. Peanut, canola and olive oils are useful in improving the anti-inflammatory abilities of HDL cholesterol, according to Mayo Clinic. Olive oil has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol while not affecting HDL cholesterol levels.
Adding soluble fiber via high-fiber foods can reduce cholesterol numbers. Soluble fiber may reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Pears, apples, kidney beans, prunes and barley are all good sources of fiber. Mayo Clinic suggests eating up to 10 grams of soluble fiber daily to decrease LDL and total cholesterol numbers.
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in fish can help to lower cholesterol. Herring, sardines, salmon and mackerel are all good options to add to the diet. Mayo Clinic recommends incorporating two servings of fish into the diet each week.
Almonds, walnuts and other nuts have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, since they are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. A daily 1.5-ounce serving of hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and other nuts is recommended by Mayo Clinic.