Top Five Vegan Cholesterol-Lowering Foods: Exclusive Article from Dr. J. E. Williams

Thursday Apr 21 | BY |
| Comments (15)

These tasty nuts are a heart-healthy superfood, as they not only help lower cholesterol but lower blood pressure, too.

Resident Medical Authority: J. E. Williams, OMD, FAAIM

In a previous blog, I wrote that getting your total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL is good and below 165 mg/dL is better. But too low, less than 135 mg/dL, is not healthy. I wrote that strong HDL and low LDL is more important, and balance with optimal ratios is the key to lipid health. We learned that high fat and sugar diets and sedentary lifestyle is the primary cause of high cholesterol and imbalanced lipid ratios, and not a deficiency of Lipitor. And, most agree with the accepted wisdom that a plant-based, high-fiber diet of fresh whole foods and regular exercise restores lipid health. From my clinical experience, I find that a strict vegan diet, as long as it’s also low in vegetable oils, which most are, can dramatically lower total cholesterol and LDL, but it may lower them too much and drag heart-protective HDL down with them. Once again, balance is the key.


Now, let’s look at five common plant-based foods that help you eat your way to lower cholesterol and improve overall health.

1. Oats
Can a bowl of oatmeal help lower your cholesterol? Oatmeal, oat bran and high-fiber foods with oats like granola contain soluble fiber, which reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol. Soluble fiber inhibits the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total cholesterol and LDL. Eating 1½ cups of cooked oatmeal provides 6 grams of fiber. But daily oatmeal can get boring, so mix it up a little. Try steel-cut oatmeal or cold cereal made with oatmeal or oat bran, different types of granola and healthy oatmeal bars.

2. Hazelnuts
The cis-unsaturated lipid content of hazelnuts, as well as the presence of dietary fiber, plant protein, phytosterols, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other bioactive substances, is thought to be responsible for their cardio-protective properties. They also provide a healthy type of natural vitamin E. All types of hazelnuts seem to work on improving lipid profile. As little as 30 grams of hazelnuts daily can reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease by 10-15%.

3. Walnuts
These tasty nuts not only help lower cholesterol, they also lower blood pressure. About 81 percent of the total calories of walnuts are derived from healthy fats accounting for 58 percent of their weight. Walnut fat is similar to that of commonly used oils from grains and seeds. The ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fat in walnuts is 7.1, one of the highest among naturally-occurring foods. This makes for a heart-healthy superfood. Eating about a handful (1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams) a day may help reduce your risk of heart disease. Make sure your nuts are organic, raw or slightly roasted without any added salt or other ingredients. Remember, all nuts are high in calories, so a handful will do. Avoid gaining weight from eating too many nuts.

4. Apples
A favorite fruit for almost every one, apples contain a variety of healthy chemicals including polyphenols, pectin, and fiber. Polyphenols and soluble fiber are found in a variety of other fruits and vegetables, such as grapes, berries, and peppers. Pectin is a complex carbohydrate and soluble fiber that is found in many fruits, including apples. These compounds possess a variety of healthy benefits, such as lowering cancer risk (polyphenols), aiding in digestive health (fiber and pectin), and helping to lower cholesterol levels. One or two apples as day is enough, and apple cider vinegar and fresh organic apple juice is also beneficial. Researchers found that taking pectin, polyphenols, and fiber supplements with your apple (or apple juice) maximized the cholesterol lowering effect.

5. Non-GMO Soy
A number of studies show soy protein can lower LDL levels and triglycerides without lowering “good” HDL cholesterol. Soybeans have good fatty acids. They are low in saturated fat and contain mostly polyunsaturated fatty acids in particular linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). Soy protein consumption may decrease LDL levels by as much as 13%, reduce triglycerides by about 10%, and increase HDL by 3%. The improvement in lipid levels seems to be most efficient when soy intake is spread throughout the day. There is a lot of conflicting information that raises concerns about dietary soy products, but remember that soy in the form of tofu and other preparations has been a staple in the Asian diet for thousands of years. Just don’t over eat soy, use small amounts regularly and spread out in your daily diet, and if you’re allergic to soy, don’t use it. (Always make sure it is certified organic as well.)

Bottom Line: A healthy plant-based, balanced diet plays an important role in lipid health and managing cardiovascular risk. Vegetarianism is clearly beneficial for heart health. When actively working to get your cholesterol down and improve lipid ratios, include the five most important foods for lowering cholesterol.

[Kevin’s Note: Soy can be mildly estogenic for some people. This can be a positive or a negative for the individual, so please be sure to monitor your blood tests and work with a practitioner to determine what is right for you. Don’t rely solely on information that may or may not be true for your specific bio-individuality.]


Here’s How You Can Access Some of Dr. Williams’ Most Important Health Secrets and Protocols…

Dr. J. E. Williams has over 30 years of clinical experience in the natural health world and has had over 100,000 patient visits over that time.

We’ve recently created a selection of programs based on his work, to help you get real, tested and effective natural solutions.

These programs include how to improve thyroid function, how to read your blood tests, and how to support your adrenals naturally.

To learn more about these programs or to get one today, please click here!

Dr. J. E. Williams


Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

Visit Dr. Williams’ Website:

And Follow on Facebook:



Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Thank you for charing Kevin! Really good artical that I will show my mom : ) I eat everything on the list accept soy, but I eat some fermented soy like tamari and some organic tofu : )

    I wonder do I have to cook the oatmeal to get the benefit or can I eat it raw or maybe rolled oats? : )

  2. QP says:

    “estogenic” ??? what does that mean?

  3. Josephine says:

    Rolled oats already are steamed before rolling. My dad used to just soak rolled oats in some milk–I use almond milk that I make at home–and eat them like that, without heating them.

    I am so happy that I am growing hazelnut bushes in the yard!

  4. Thomas says:

    @ QP: He meant “estrogenic” (he omitted the r).
    It refers to steroid hormones that promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics of the body. Artificially produced ones are used in birth control pills, menstrual and menopause medicines.

  5. claudia says:

    Can you make a list of food that may help to raise de “good cholesterol”???

  6. Rebecca Cody says:

    As I understand it, the only safe soy is fermented, and there are few sources of that. They are soy sauce, tempeh, natto (which is an acquired taste – or maybe you have to be born Japanese to get past the smell and like it), an organic fermented soy protein powder by Jarrow, and it seems like there is one other, but I’m not remembering at the moment.

    Feeding soy milk to an infant is similar in estrogen activity to giving the baby several birth control pills every day. NOT something you want to do, or even to drink yourself.

    Soy has many enzyme inhibitors that are not good for you, and you can assume all soy other than organic is genetically modified. Soy is also goitrogenic, meaning it contributes to thyroid malfunction. Does anybody remember how Oprah talked about drinking her soy smoothie every morning, and now has a problem with hypothyroid? Is there a connection? Very possibly.

  7. Chusmacha says:

    How do we politely hint to our friend that the food they’re eating isn’t good for them?

  8. Ira Edwards says:

    Cholesterol lowering is not a measure of a food, drug or supplement benefit. They may have other health benefits, but cholesterol level is irrelevant. “Cholesterol” is so firmly burned into our minds by years of intensive advertizing and false information that it is hard to think about nutrition without relating it falsely to cholesterol.
    Triglycerides may be high because of high carbohydrate intake, which is corrected by good nutrition. HDL, wrongly called “good cholesterol,” is beneficial only if it consists of large particle size, which can be measured, but that takes care of itself with correct nutrition. LDL, “bad cholesterol,” just forget it, and you won’t miss anything useful.
    I am the author of HONEST NUTRITION, with information gathered with great difficulty from may sources over many years. Contact me at 845 W. 12th St. Medford Oregon 97501

  9. Ira Edwards says:

    I should have added that likely the best information on cholesterol is Anthony Colpo’s THE GREAT CHOLESTEROL CON. Another source is

  10. Jasmine says:

    I recently heard that polyunsaturated fats are NOT good for you. Here is where I heard that:»+Healthy+Living%29

    Granted, these guys don’t sound like they absolutely know what they’re talking about, but I am curious if any of you have heard something similar.

  11. Thomas says:

    Here’s another good synopsis of what cholesterol is and what it does. Also explains the big-pharma con game.

    Cheers. 🙂

  12. Ira Edwards says:

    To answer Jasmine, #10. The longest chain fats, which are in fish oil are the most vital, but because they are easily oxidized, too much can be inflammaatory. Same with the omega-3 in flaxseed. The omega-6 in most vegetable oils we get in great excess, and they are also subject ot oxidation. All of these are polyunsaturated.
    Go to the site I gave for cholesterol, Chris Masterjohn understands the biochemistry of fats better than anyone elso I know.

  13. Charmaine says:

    Miso and fuyu are 2 other fermented soy products. I buy unpasteurized fermented soy products and don’t heat them prior to eating. Yes, I eat tempeh raw. Don’t wanna kill off the beneficial culture and new enzymes. I just cut it into cubes and toss with a nice raw dressing or sauce.

    Some people don’t have a problem with unfermented pastuerized soy products though. I know Robert Cheeke doesn’t have issues with soy, even if it’s supposed to be estrogenic. I mean the guy won’t be able to build all those huge vegan muscles if he had too much estrogen from eating all that soy.

  14. Charmaine says:

    Oops…sorry…muscles aren’t vegan 🙂 what I meant was that his muscles were built on a vegan diet

  15. Sue J Thomas says:

    Soy=estrogenic? A friend ate soy big time after menopause and ended up with an 8# benign tumor on her ovary. Certainly an estrogen system…but could this be?
    Also ended up gaining a lot of weight unfortunately. Ugh!

    Comments are closed for this post.