High cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. While there is no so-called ‘magic bullet’ that makes cholesterol disappear, certain foods in combination with prescribed medications can help lower cholesterol and protect your heart.

Dietician Patricia Bannan, author of “Eat Right When Time is Tight,” offered her recommendations – some of which may surprise you.

One of the best foods you can eat to help manage cholesterol is strawberries, according to Bannan.  Strawberries  contain many heart-healthy substances, including phytochemicals, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, fiber and phytosterols, and may actually inhibit cholesterol absorption.

The science seems to back it up: University of Oklahoma researchers found supplementing diets with freeze-dried strawberry powder was linked to an 11 percent drop in bad (LDL) cholesterol in obese participants within two months.

Lean beef is another food that is great for cholesterol.  While too much meat may take a negative toll on the body,  one study found that eating 4.5 to 5 ounces of lean beef every day could actually reduce LDL cholesterol.

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This includes popular cuts like top sirloin steak, tenderloin, T-bone steak and 95 percent lean ground beef.  A 3-ounce serving of beef has 150 calories and  10 essential nutrients, such as protein, zinc and iron.

“A recent study that was in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating lean beef everyday as part of a heart healthy diet and helps reduce bad cholesterol levels by as much as 10 percent—which is equivalent to other recommended heart healthy diets,” Bannan said.

Other cholesterol-reducers Bannan recommended included green tea, flaxseed and dark chocolate.  It is also important to make other lifestyle changes like exercising more, stressing less and getting enough sleep, she said.