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Eating Habits You Must Follow If High Cholesterol Runs In Your Family

If you have a family history of high cholesterol, there are some dietary choices you can make to lower your own risk.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

If you have a family history of high cholesterol, you are more likely to have high cholesterol yourself. So, even if you don't have high cholesterol, if your mom or dad (or grandparent) is diagnosed with this condition, taking proactive steps to support healthy cholesterol levels is extremely important for keeping your own levels healthy and ideal.

While you can't control your family history, you can control the food you put in your body. And since the risk for high cholesterol can increase even more when a family history of high cholesterol combines with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as eating an unhealthy diet, it is reassuring knowing that even if you have a family history of this condition, you can take steps to keep your cholesterol levels in-check simply by eating the right foods.

Regardless of your personal cholesterol levels, if you have a family history of high cholesterol, here are six eating habits you must follow to help keep yourself as healthy as possible. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science.

Adopt a Mediterranean lifestyle

mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean Diet includes eating foods like olive oil, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and other foods commonly consumed by people who live by the Mediterranean Sea. Enjoying meals with friends and participating in physical activity are lifestyle practices that are parts of this "diet" as well.

Many studies show that following this dietary pattern is linked to numerous health benefits, including improved HDL "good" cholesterol among high cardiovascular risk individuals. So, eating antioxidant-rich foods while reducing intake of fried foods, foods with added sugars, and ultra-processed foods is an excellent practice for people with a family history of high cholesterol.

Stick to lean cuts of beef

flank steak

If you are a meat and potatoes kind of person, know that you don't have to completely give up your beloved steak if you try to keep your cholesterol levels in an ideal range. Sure, eating too many saturated fats, like the fat found in fattier cuts of beef, may raise LDL "bad" cholesterol levels. But leaner cuts, like flank steak, can be a part of a heart-healthy diet.

In fact, data published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that diets that are low in saturated fats and follow a heart-healthy dietary pattern that contains lean beef supports positive effects on cholesterol levels similar to those seen when people follow the DASH diet. Lean red meat trimmed of visible fat does not appear to raise total blood cholesterol, and LDL-cholesterol levels like fattier cuts of meat do. Moral of the story? Choose your beef cuts wisely.

Start your day with a bowl of oats

oatmeal fruit berries walnuts nuts

Oatmeal is a classic breakfast food that warms the soul and is easy to make. Less known is that this quintessential breakfast dish can help lower cholesterol levels, in part thanks to the beta-glucan fiber it contains. In one meta-analysis evaluating 28 studies, results showed that adding at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucans per day to a diet reduces LDL cholesterol by 0.25 mmol/L.

This fiber essentially binds LDL cholesterol and removes it before it is absorbed, helping keep hypercholesterolemia at bay.

RELATED: The #1 Best Oatmeal to Eat to Lower Cholesterol, Says Dietitian

Flavor your dishes with garlic


Aiming for healthy cholesterol levels doesn't have to mean bland and flavorless meals. Including garlic in your heart-healthy diet may improve blood cholesterol levels naturally.

According to a meta-analysis evaluating 14 studies, garlic may naturally reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. If you aren't a garlic lover, garlic supplements can be a viable alternative.

Sip on green tea

Green tea in mugs

Including green tea in your diet may lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, thanks to the unique polyphenols and flavonols it contains. No matter whether it is hot or iced, including green tea in your diet is one incredibly easy thing to do if you have a family history of high cholesterol.

Snack on strawberries

strawberries white bowl

Naturally sweet with no added sugars, strawberries are a fruit that is loved by many and can enhance many dishes. If you are a strawberry lover, rejoice in knowing that eating these berries every day can support healthy cholesterol levels. According to a small study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, people who ate a specific quantity of strawberries every day for one month experienced reduced levels of total cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol.

And for more, check out The #1 Worst Drink for High Cholesterol, Says Dietitian.

Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and recipe developer who has been in practice for almost 20 years. Read more about Lauren