The best meal for anyone worried about cholesterol is a meal low in saturated fat and abundant in fruits and vegetables.

And although there are no magic bullets beyond that healthy prescription, certain foods have been shown to give cholesterol levels an extra nudge in the right direction.

Weave some of these whole foods, all pinpointed by research as cholesterol-friendly, into your daily diet.

Alcohol

Drinking a glass of wine with dinner any alcoholic beverage, in fact has been shown to raise good-cholesterol levels and lower the risk of a heart attack. Excessive drinking, however, raises heart-disease danger.

Almonds

Substances in almond skins help prevent LDL "bad" cholesterol from being oxidized, a process that can otherwise damage the lining of blood vessels and increase cardiovascular risk.

Avocados

The monounsaturated fats in avocados have been found to lower "bad" LDLs and raise "good" HDLs, especially in people with mildly elevated cholesterol.

Barley

When volunteers in a USDA study added barley to the standard American Heart Association diet, LDL "bad" cholesterol levels fell more than twice as far.

Barley makes a great substitute for rice, adds depth to soups and is terrific combined with dried fruits, nuts and a little oil and vinegar for a hearty salad.

Beans & Lentils

From a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, LDL "bad" cholesterol levels fell almost twice as far in those volunteers on a low-fat diet who added beans and lentils (along with more whole grains and vegetables) to the menu.

Experiment with beans in soups, salads and dips. Tuck them into burritos, lasagnas and casseroles.

Blueberries

Blueberries contain a powerful antioxidant called pterostilbene that may help lower LDL cholesterol.

Oats

When women in a University of Toronto study added oat bran to an already heart-healthy diet, HDL-cholesterol levels the beneficial kind climbed more than 11 percent.

Consider a daily bowl of oat-bran hot cereal or old-fashioned oatmeal for breakfast. Oat-bran muffins can also pack a tasty dose into your day.

Courtesy Peter Jaret of Eating Well on foodnetwork.com.