Vitamin D is known to fend off everything from depression to heart disease to even injuries, but here’s something it can’t do: lower your cholesterol.
Both vitamin D deficiency and high cholesterol have been linked with worse cardiovascular health. And though there’s some evidence associating high D levels with a healthier lipid profile–a.k.a. lower cholesterol–those studies have been mainly observational.
In a new one in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, researchers examined the effects of vitamin D on 151 D-deficient volunteers. People were treated with either supplements or a placebo for eight weeks. Those given vitamin D received a weekly amount of 50,000 international units (IU)–almost 12 times more than the recommended weekly amount. Cholesterol levels were recorded before and after, and researchers found that correcting the vitamin deficiency didn’t improve cholesterol.
So now that vitamin D’s off the table, what else can you do to bust your bad cholesterol? Easy: Open up your kitchen cabinets. Here are three surprising foods that’ll lower your levels. (For more genius nutrition tips–and delicious recipes, to boot–sign up for our all-new Guy Gourmet newsletter!)
Most people associate eggs (with yolk) with high cholesterol. But according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition, this breakfast favorite actually increases good (HDL) cholesterol, not bad (LDL) cholesterol. Plus, one study found that overweight people who ate a breakfast of two eggs with yolk instead of a bagel 5 days a week for 8 weeks reported higher energy levels and lost 65 percent more weight. (Break out of your shell and enjoy cheaper, tastier, protein-packed meals with these Healthy Egg Recipes.)
Just make sure to pile on the anchovies and garlic. The small fish is packed with the powerful minerals zinc, copper, iron, iodine, and selenium, which work alongside fish oils to more effectively lower cholesterol. And garlic’s antioxidant powers could help fight cholesterol by preventing free radicals from oxidizing LDLs.
But check the labels first. Cook up a grass-fed burger, which has a balanced ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, and you could be lowering your LDL levels one bite at a time. Why? Conventionally farmed beef is about 1:20 in its ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. Grass-fed? Around 1:3, which is the ratio found in most fish. Plus, grass-fed beef has twice the vitamin E and only 15 percent as much fat as the regular stuff.