Ultimate Cholesterol Lowering Plan

 

This step is about adding some key foods into your diet which actually help to lower your cholesterol. We call them the cholesterol busters.

Step 3: The four UCLP© foods

In step 1 of the UCLP© we asked you to think about why you want to change your diet to get into the right frame of mind. In step 2 we asked you to reflect on your current eating pattern and make some simple changes. 

If you found stage 2 difficult, it might help to refer back to the notes you made in stage 1.

If you have made the changes to improve your eating habits in step 2, and are confident that you can keep them going, then now is the time to move onto step 3 of the UCLP©.

Which food will you choose?

There are four UCLP© foods that you can add to your plan. All will help you towards your goal of reaching and keeping to a healthier cholesterol level. Have a look at each option below, and our suggestions of how to incorporate them into your day.

Decide which food type you would like to add to your diet first. Over time you can adopt one, two, three or all four of them.

Whichever UCLP© cholesterol-busting food you choose will help lower your cholesterol further, and the great news is that the more you adopt, the more you can lower your cholesterol. It’s best to take one at a time and build up slowly.

Food no 1 - Soya foods

Soya foods are made from soya beans. Soya beans are packed full of good quality proteins, healthy fats and a range of vitamins, minerals and plant nutrients. Foods made from soya beans are naturally low in saturated fat.

Using a soya alternative to milk and yogurts, soya desserts, soya custard, soya nuts (roasted Edamame beans), soya mince and meat alternatives in place of full fat dairy foods, meat and other high saturated fat foods will help you to maintain a healthier cholesterol level.

Soya foods are no longer the domain of vegetarians – not only is there a greater choice than ever before – they taste great too. So why not give soya foods a go.

How much do I need to eat daily?

It’s best to start by aiming for around 15g of soya protein each day. It’s not always easy to check packet labels to see how much soy protein they contain. To help you, we have compiled a list of options that all add up to 15g.

 

Choose any ONE of these:

  • A handful of soya nuts (also called roasted edamame beans)
  • 2 large glasses (2 x 250ml) Alpro Soya Original alternative to milk
  • 100g soya mince/chunks (as served)
  • 55g marinated tofu pieces

or any ONE of these

  • 75g tofu (silken hard variety)
  • 70g soya mince/chunks (as served)
  • 40g marinated tofu – great on salads or as a snack
  • One soya burger

PLUS...

  • a 125ml of Alpro Soya alternative to yogurt, custard or soya dessert

Or any TWO of these

  • 50g tofu (silken hard variety)
  • 25-30g marinated tofu
  • 250ml glass Alpro Soya Original alternative to milk
  • One soya sausage
  • 3-4 tbsp (80g) fresh or frozen soya/edamame beans

Food no 2 - Oats, barley and other soluble fibre rich foods

Fibre is essential for health and found in all plants – fruits, vegetables and cereals.

Oats and barley contain a special form of soluble fibre called beta glucan, which as part of a healthy diet, can help to lower cholesterol.  It works by forming a gel in the gut which can bind with cholesterol rich bile acids and stop them being absorbed into the body.

Beta glucan is also found in other grains too – but in much smaller amounts.

How much do I need to eat daily?

3g is the optimum daily amount of beta-glucans to help lower cholesterol. Foods which contain at least one third of this amount, in a reasonable sized serving, can make a cholesterol lowering claim on their packs.

To reach your goal of 3g beta-glucans per day – choose three from the list below:

  • A bowl of porridge (using 30g of porridge oats)
  • 2 tablespoons of oatbran – sprinkled onto cereals, or added to casseroles, soups or smoothies
  • 1 oat breakfast biscuit
  • 1 serving of Mornflake oatbran cereal
  • 3 oatcakes
  • 30g of oats in recipes that are also low in saturated fat

OR ONE oat serving from above plus ONE of the following barley serving:

  • 150g cooked pearl barley – added to stews, casseroles, in salads or use instead of rice to make a risotto
  • 40g serving of barley flakes

Or 1 portion of

  • Oatwell products – Bran powder, instant drink mix, or oat bar

Boost your soluble fibre intake further

You can boost your soluble fibre intake by eating more fruits and vegetables, beans and peas, whole grains, nuts and a dietary supplement called psyllium.

As part of the UCLP© plan we recommend including 80-100g of cooked pulses (beans, peas or lentils) each day on top of your 5-a-day. There is huge choice to pick from and you can include them in lots of ways – soups, stews, salad, dips, on toast or as a vegetable side.

Fruits and vegetables rich in soluble fibre include aubergine, okra, apples, citrus fruits, strawberries, prunes, plums, avocado, pears, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes and onions.

Food no 3 – Nuts

Nuts are packed full of heart-healthy nutrients such as protein, fibre, plant sterols, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, zinc and copper.

Because they are also naturally rich in unsaturated fats and lower in saturated fat they can help lower cholesterol as part of a healthy diet.

There are lots of different nuts to choose from including almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, cashews and peanuts.

How much do I need to eat daily?

A handful of nuts (25-35g) is about the optimum amount each day. Choose unsalted nuts and if possible opt for nuts with their skins still intact and unroasted (rather than roasted varieties) as these contain additional nutrients.

Food no 4 - Sterols and Stanols

Sterols and stanols are the plant equivalent of cholesterol and are naturally found in a wide range of plant based foods in very small amounts.

When eaten daily in larger amounts they can help to lower cholesterol. They work by reducing the amount of cholesterol our bodies can recycle.

How much do I need to eat daily?

You need to eat 1.5-2.4g of plant sterol and stanols daily, as part of a low saturated fat diet, to lower cholesterol  by 7-10% over three weeks. There are lots of foods now available in the chiller cabinets of stores that are fortified with plant sterols and stanols. Look out for them.

Eat these foods as part of a meal because they only work by mixing with the food you have eaten. You can opt for a one-a-day mini drink, which contains the daily amount all in one go, or spread your sterol/stanol intake through the day by using the spreads, yogurt, milk and other fortified foods.

How to achieve your daily target

Choose either:

  • One sterol/stanol fortified mini drink (65-100ml bottle)

Or two to three of the following:

  • 250ml of sterol/stanol fortified milk
  • 10g of sterol/stanol fortified spread (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 sterol/stanol fortified yoghurt

Make sure all products that you buy clearly say that they have been fortified with plant sterols or stanols.

To eat products with plant sterols and stanols safely

  • Only use these products if you need to lower your cholesterol.
  • They are not suitable for children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, unless advised by your doctor.
  • Eat them as part of a healthy balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables.
  • Don't eat more than 3g per day of sterol and stanols – more than this will not lower your cholesterol any further.

UCLP© - menu plan

Here are some meal ideas to get you started and show you how easy it is to include some of the UCLP© foods in your diet.

Choose any breakfast, lunch or dinner option from our meal ideas and if you need to, a snack or drink idea. Our meal ideas factsheet includes lots of ideas for meals low in saturated fat as well as ways in which you can include soya foods, oats, barley, pulses, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, oily fish and plant sterol and stanol fortified foods.

Here are some at-a-glance ideas for including your 4 UCLP© cholesterol busting foods.