High cholesterol, it’s an issue that doesn’t discriminate — affecting 71 million Americans, it has become an epidemic in the United States that leads to many other diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Many factors, including genetics, predispose many people to high cholesterol. However, diet and exercise play a major role in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Moreover, there are a few scientifically proven foods that will help to lower LDL levels also known as bad cholesterol.

1. Strawberries: This bright red fruit not only tastes great, but now researchers are finding that the antioxidants in strawberries can help to lower cholesterol. According to recent research out of Università Politecnica delle Marche, scientists found that eating strawberries reduced the total overall levels of bad cholesterol. However, the levels of HDL or good cholesterol remained the same. The findings were published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

2. Fish Oil: The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish per day because of its high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. However, when that is not always available, taking fish oil in a concentrated form like a supplement or capsule is more than sufficient. In other research, scientists also found that fish oils also have beneficial effects on patients with preexisting coronary heart diseases.

3. Tree Nuts: Tree Nuts are low in saturated fats and high in unsaturated fatty acids, making them cholesterol’s worst nightmare. “A summary of studies conducted to date shows that tree nuts reduce LDL cholesterol by 3-19 % compared with Western and lower-fat diets,” according to a study published in Medline. The information shows that LDL is lowered from an unsaturated fat source, such as tree nuts. Tree nuts include almonds, cashews, chestnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts.

4. Fenugreek: It’s a common ingredient in the Indian subcontinent used in many dishes that comes in varying forms, such as a seed or leaf sprouts. CNN Health reported that, “Several studies from the 1990s have reported that, in high doses, various fenugreek seed preparations can lower total cholesterol and LDL, in some cases dramatically.”

5. Onions: Researchers at the Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension Service found that people who ate at least one half of a raw onion per day saw a 30 percent increase in their good cholesterol. They also noted that onions increase circulation, lower blood pressure, and prevent clotting.

6. Turmeric: This orange spice, known for coloring many South Asian cuisines, does more than add color to many dishes. In animal studies, University of Michigan researchers found that turmeric extract lowered cholesterol levels and “prevented bad cholesterol from building up in blood vessels because it stops platelets from clumping together."