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Switching to oatmeal or Cheerios is one of the first nutritional changes that many people make when diagnosed with high cholesterol, and while they do contain soluble fiber, the National Institutes of Health recommends 10 to 25 grams of soluble fiber – daily – to reduce bad LDL cholesterol.

A serving of Cheerios has just a single gram of soluble fiber — that means it could take 10-plus bowls of Cheerios — daily — to effectively lower LDL cholesterol. Oatmeal is a little better, with 2 grams of soluble fiber per serving – but still… five bowls??

So while there’s nothing wrong with incorporating oats or Cheerios, there are plenty of other foods that give us far more bang for our buck when it comes to adding more cholesterol-reducing soluble fiber into our diets.

Ground psyllium (the main ingredient in Metamucil) ranks highest, with 6 grams of soluble fiber per tablespoon.

And not to worry if Metamucil isn’t up your alley — a cup of beans (like Blue Runner’s red, black, or white beans) provides 4 to 6 grams of soluble fiber.

And if you’re a fan of oatmeal in the morning, try Kashi Go Lean Instant Hot Cereal, with 5 grams of soluble fiber per packet – plus it has added protein for more staying power as well.

Plant-based compounds called plant sterols and stanols can also improve cholesterol levels. They’re added to foods like Smart Balance Heart Smart milk and buttery spreads like Benecol and Smart Balance Heart Smart, with a recommended dose of 2 to 4 servings daily.

Soy protein is another option that may reduce bad LDL cholesterol. Aim for at least 25 grams of soy protein daily, with common sources including soy protein powder, soy milk, and soy-based meat substitutes.

Along with nutritional changes, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight will help to improve your cholesterol – just one more reason to get moving and keep your weight in check!