Six Cholesterol Busting Foods
There are several foods which are not just part of a healthy diet, they can actively help to lower your cholesterol too. As part of your healthy heart diet, try to eat some of these every day. The more you add to your diet, the more they can help lower your cholesterol, especially if you cut down on saturated fat as well.
Cutting down on saturated fat is great way to lower your cholesterol and look after you heart. And it’s just as important to replace some of this with unsaturated fats.
- vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed, nut and seed oils
- avocado, nuts and seeds
- fat spreads made from vegetable oils, such as sunflower and olive oil
Oily fish is also a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, specifically omega-3 fats . Aim to eat two portions of fish per week. At least one of which should be oily. A portion is 140g, but you could have two or three smaller portions throughout the week. Tinned, frozen or fresh all count e.g. salmon, sardines, pilchards, trout, herring and mackerel.
Avoid coconut and palm oil as, unlike other vegetable oils, they are high in saturated fat.
2. Fruit and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. They contain vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals which help you to stay healthy and prevent disease. The majority contain little or no fat and are low in calories too, so they can help you to stay a healthy weight. And if you are eating more fruit and veg, chances are you're eating less of the other more energy-packed foods.
Fruit and vegetables are also high in fibre, and some types of fibre can help to lower your cholesterol. Fibre helps block some cholesterol from being absorbed from the intestines into the blood stream. Pulses such as beans, peas and lentils are particularly high in this kind of fibre. Sweet potato, aubergine, okra (ladies’ fingers), broccoli, apples, strawberries and prunes are also good options.
Aim for: at least five portions of fruit and veg a day. An adult portion is around 80g, or a handful. Make at least one of these beans, peas or lentils.
- 3 tablespoons of vegetables - such as sweet potato, broccoli or okra
- 3 tablespoons of beans, peas or lentils – all options count, for example chickpeas, kidney beans, garden peas and red lentils
2-3 cauliflower or broccoli florets
- half a large vegetable – such as courgette, pepper or aubergine
half an avocado
- a medium sized vegetable – such as a turnip, parsnip, sweet potato, leek, tomato or carrot
- a medium sized fruit – for example, an apple, orange or banana
- 2 small fruits – such as plums or satsumas
- a handful of berries or grapes - and other small fruits like strawberries and prunes
- a good-sized slice of a larger fruit – such as a melon, mango or pineapple
- a tablespoon of dried fruit
- a 150ml glass of fruit juice
- a bowl of salad
Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, tinned, frozen or dried. They all count. If you choose tinned, choose options in juice or water, without added sugar or salt.
Potatoes, yams, cassava and plantains are exceptions. They don’t count because they count as a starchy food – like rice or pasta.
Unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies count too, but only one portion. More than one doesn’t count because the loose sugar and acid in them can damage your teeth.
Nuts are good sources of unsaturated fats and lower in saturated fats, a mix which can help to keep your cholesterol in check. They contain fibre which can help block some cholesterol being absorbed into the blood stream from the gut. Plus, protein, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, natural plant sterols and other plant nutrients which help keep your body healthy. They’re also filling, so you’re less likely to snack on other things.
Aim for: 28-30g of nuts a day, which is around a handful.
Almonds, Macadamias, Brazil nuts, Cashew nuts, Hazelnuts, Pistachios, Walnuts, Peanuts, Pecans.
All nuts count. Choose varieties and try these instead of your normal snack or as part of a meal. Where possible, go for the kind with their skins still intact as they contain more nutrients.
Oats and barley are grains which are rich in a type of fibre called beta glucan – 3g of beta-glucan daily, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, can help to lower cholesterol.
When you eat beta glucan, it forms a gel which binds to cholesterol and bile (which is made from cholesterol) in the intestines. This helps limit the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed from the gut into your blood. Your liver has to take more cholesterol out of your blood to make more bile, which also lowers your blood cholesterol.
Aim for: three servings of the following oat-based products or barley per day. This will give you around 3g of beta glucans, the daily amount needed to help to lower your cholesterol.
- a bowl of porridge – which is 30g of dry oats or a sachet of instant porridge
- a bowl of oat-based breakfast cereal flakes – around 30-35g
- 1 serving of Mornflake oatbran cereal
- 1 breakfast cereal oat type ‘biscuit’
- 1-2 tbsp (13g) oatbran – try sprinkling it onto cereals or adding it to casseroles, stews, soups and smoothies
- 3 oatcakes
- 30g oats added to recipes
- 60g cooked pearl barley – try adding it to stews, casseroles and soups
Oatwell products – contain 3g of beta glucans in one serving so only one portion a day is needed
Many products now contain oats, which makes it easier to get your two to four servings. Foods which have a claim on the label saying they lower cholesterol contain 1g or more of beta glucan.