A study by the Australian University of Queensland University explained how some cereals, such as oats, counteract the effects of bad cholesterol, helping to reduce cardiovascular risk. The effect was already known to the scientific community, but the new study has identified the mechanism by which the phenomenon occurs.

The merit is beta-glucan, a soluble polysaccharide that has several positive effects on our body. This substance would reduce not only bad cholesterol, but also two other important markers of cardiovascular risk: non-HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B, a protein used to transport bad cholesterol to tissues through the bloodstream.

Dr. Maddalena Lettino, head of Cardiology and Heart Failure in Humanitas, explains: “Beta-glucan, which is mainly found in oats, is also found in barley, although in smaller quantities, and helps to lower cholesterol levels because it interacts with bile in the intestine, increasing its elimination through the feces. Bile carries along large amounts of cholesterol, which are then eliminated from the body. Other whole grains rich in fiber also contribute to the removal of cholesterol and the reduction of sugar absorbed after a meal, with consequent positive effects on the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, especially in those with hypercholesterolemia and/or diabetes”.


Foods that counteract cholesterol

Dr. Lettino points out that other foods also help to control blood cholesterol levels such as legumes, dried fruit, seeds, fish, fruit and garlic.


  • Dried fruit
  • Dried fruit (such as walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts), pumpkin seeds and linseed are rich in omega 6, polyunsaturated fatty acids of vegetable origin capable of reducing bad cholesterol.
  • Legumes
  • The legumes, on the other hand, are rich in fibers, which facilitate intestinal transit, maintain stable blood sugar levels and reduce the absorption of cholesterol in our bodies.
  • Light blue fish


Blue fish is rich in omega 3, fatty acids that improve the metabolism of lipids in the blood. They substantially reduce triglycerides, especially if taken in large quantities, and can produce a very slight increase in good cholesterol (HDL), contributing to the prevention of cardiovascular risk.



Fruit, which is preferable to consume seasonally, could help lower levels of bad cholesterol. Thanks to its soluble fibers, it cleanses the body from excess fats. Moreover, the avocado deserves a special mention, because it is a fruit rich in mono-unsaturated fats capable of reducing bad cholesterol. However, it is very caloric, so it is advisable not to exaggerate.



Garlic would also be able to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, although its action is rather limited.