Eat These Five Foods to Lower Cholesterol

Eat These Five Foods to Lower Cholesterol

There are certain foods that can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, so for National Cholesterol Month, Lynne Garton, Dietetic Adviser at HEART UK has shared five of the best.

Lynne says; “Eating healthily and being active are important for keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level because too much cholesterol can lead to health problems and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and vascular dementia*. Replacing foods high in saturated fat with those containing unsaturated fats, such as walnuts, oily fish and avocados, is one very good way to help manage cholesterol. Walnuts also contain fibre, making them a great heart healthy choice.”

1.       California Walnuts

Walnuts are the only tree nut to contain a rich source of omega 3 ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), 2.7g / 30g (approx. a handful), which research has shown can contribute to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels, and is just one of the reasons California Walnuts have been given the heart healthy seal of approval from HEART UK.

Research has also shown ALA to have a beneficial role in the prevention of heart disease[iv]and stroke, which high cholesterol can contribute to. In addition, EFSA has approved the health claim that a handful of walnuts a day can have a positive effect on the elasticity of the blood vessels - helping to keep the cardiovascular system healthy.

2.       Oily Fish

Cutting down on saturated fat can be a great way to lower cholesterol and it is important to replace some of this with unsaturated fats. Oily fish is a good source of these marine based omega-3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 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.

3.       Oats

Oats and barley are grains which are rich in a type of fibre called beta glucan. Eating 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-rich bile acids in the intestines. As your liver has to take more cholesterol out of your blood to make more bile, this lowers your blood cholesterol. Aim for three servings of oat-based products or barley per day, as this will give you around 3g of beta glucans. Examples of a serving include a bowl of porridge, a bowl of oat-based breakfast cereal flakes, three oatcakes or 30g oats added to recipes. 

4.       Beans

Certain soluble fibres form a gel-like substance in the gut which can help delay or reduce certain nutrients from being absorbed into your blood, such as sugar and fats including cholesterol. Pulses such as beans, peas and lentils are particularly high in this kind of fibre, so when aiming for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, make at least one of these beans, peas or lentils. Three tablespoons of beans, peas or lentils equals one portion.

5.       Fruit and Vegetables

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The majority are low in fat and calories and contain vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals which can help you to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Aim for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day (an adult portion is around 80g, or a handful). Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, tinned, frozen or dried.

* Vascular dementia is caused by problems with the blood supply to the brain – either by a stroke or mini strokes, or because the blood vessels in the brain have become too narrow. It can cause problems with memory, thinking and talking.