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Can Eating This Fruit Lower LDL Cholesterol Levels?

Study shows a strawberry chaser after a high-fat meal keeps cholesterol in check.

Next time you load your plate with mac and cheese and eat the whole thing, here's what you might want to do next: Grab a couple of handfuls of strawberries. 

High-calorie, fatty meals cause artery-damaging blood fats and LDL cholesterol levels to spike temporarily. But in a recent study, people who followed a high-fat meal with a test strawberry beverage  had a much smaller cholesterol hike. 

Blood-fat attack 
Specifically, the benefits of strawberries seemed to minimize oxidized LDL cholesterol—a dangerous, unstable kind of cholesterol that likes to chew up the lining of people's arteries. And if that sounds bad, it is. Because an artery wall injured by oxidized LDL cholesterol levels makes the perfect place for an arterial plaque to adhere and start growing. Regular exercise and an overall healthful diet are two good ways to help prevent that from happening. But if you have a dietary slip, perhaps a couple strawberries to keep cholesterol in check isn't a bad idea. Just two-thirds of a cup of strawberries reduced oxidized LDL spikes by 115 percent in the study. 

Super benefits of strawberries 
The study involved middle-aged people with high cholesterol, people who should be particularly concerned about the impact their diets have on their heart health. Researchers think that the polyphenols in the strawberries were probably responsible for dampening the spike in oxidized LDL cholesterol levels that normally happens after big, heavy meals. Other research has shown that polyphenols help inhibit LDL oxidation. And polyphenols, found in berries, teas and chocolate, are generally considered heart healthy. So, regardless of your heart's status, you'll want to get more of them into your diet and not just use them as penance for bad meals. 

Medically reviewed in November 2019. Updated in March 2021. 

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