Six Super Foods for Lower Cholesterol
There are several foods which are not just part of a healthy diet, they actively help to lower your cholesterol too. Try to eat some of these every day. The more you add to your diet, the more they will lower your cholesterol, especially if you cut down on saturated fat as well.
Super food 1 – Soya foods
Soya beans and the foods that are made from them are perfect for a healthy diet. They’re full of protein, vitamins and minerals, and they're low in saturated fat. They play a role in helping to keep your cholesterol levels down too.
Try switching some of your usual meat, dairy products and deserts, such as milk, yoghurt and custard, to soya alternatives to help you lower your cholesterol.
Aim for: around two servings of soya a foods day.
- a glass of soya milk
- a soya yogurt – you can find flavoured or plain options
- soya desserts
- soya custard
- soya meat alternatives – such as 50g of mince or cubes
- a soya burger or sausage
- a handful of soya nuts – also known as roasted edamame beans, you’ll find them in the nuts and snacks section
- edamame beans, about 80g – you’ll find them in the frozen foods section
- tofu – around 50g
Super food 2 – Nuts
All nuts are rich in protein, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium and contain natural plant sterols and other plant nutrients which help keep your body healthy and stave off disease.
They are high in unsaturated fats and lower in saturated fats, a mix which can help to keep your cholesterol in check. They’re high in fibre which can help block some cholesterol being absorbed into the blood stream from the gut. Plus, they’re filling, so you’re less likely to snack on other things.
Aim for: 30-35g of nuts a day, which is around a handful. This can lower cholesterol by 5%.
Almonds, Macadamias, Brazil nuts, Cashew nuts, Chestnuts, Hazelnuts, Pistachios, Walnut halves, Peanuts
All nuts count. Choose unsalted options because salt raises your blood pressure. Where possible, go for the kind with their skins still intact and unroasted, as they contain more nutrients.
Super food 3 – Oats and barley
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.
The beta glucans are in the outer layer of the grain – one of the reasons whole grains are so good for you. The term whole grain simply means that the entire grain is included in the food product – so it includes all the nutrients. Refined grains have had the outer layer removed which means they lose some of the nutrients, for example white bread and white pasta.
Oats and other whole grains can keep you feeling full so you’re not tempted to snack. They’re low in fat too, so they’re perfect as part of a healthy diet.
Aim for: around two to four portions of oat-based products or barley per day. This will give you around 3g or beta glucans which should help to lower your cholesterol.
- a bowl of porridge – which is 30g dry oats or a sachet of instant porridge
- a bowl of oat-based breakfast cereal – around 30g
- 1 serving of Mornflake oatbran cereal
- 2 tbsp oatbran – try sprinkling it onto cereals or adding it to casseroles, stews, soups and smoothies
- 3 oatcakes
- 30g oats added to recipes
- a serving of pearl barley – which is 20g uncooked or 50g cooked barley flakes, around 30g
- Oatwell products such as bran powder, instant drink mix, or oat bar – one portion a day is enough
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.