Ultimate Cholesterol Lowering Plan

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© food you choose will help better manage your cholesterol. The great news is that the more of the four UCLP© foods you add to your heart healthy foundation diet, the greater the potential improvements to your cholesterol levels. 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, in the main, naturally low in saturated fat.

Using soya mince, tofu, shelled young soya (edamame) beans, soya nuts, soya alternatives to milk and yogurts (plain, Greek-style, fruit), 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 healthy 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 with 1 - 2 servings a day, and gradually build up to 3 servings each day of any combination of the food and drinks listed below. 

  • 100g marinated tofu pieces (great in salads, stir-fries or with a dip)
  • 100g silken firm tofu
  • 100g soya mince, use instead of minced meat in recipes - makes a great spag bol or chilli
  • 80g shelled young soya (edamame) beans - fresh or frozen.  Great a side vegetable, in salads or blend with some soya alternative to yogurt for a great dip
  • A handful (35g) roasted soya beans - as a snack or in salads
  • A large glass (250ml) soya alternative to milk (calcium fortified), use on your cereals, in cooking in place of dairy and in teas and coffees
  • 150g Soya plain or Greek-style alternative to yogurt
  • 150g individual pot fruit Greek-style plain soya alternative to yogurt

Food no 2 - Oats and barley

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  which you can achieve by consuming 3 servings of any combination of the below foods.

Choose any combination of three from the list below:

A bowl of porridge (using 30g of porridge oats)

  • 13g (1-2 tablespoons) of oatbran – sprinkled onto cereals, or added to casseroles, soups or smoothies
  • 1 oat breakfast biscuit
  • 1 30-35g serving of oat breakfast cereal flakes
  • 3 oatcakes

 

  • Recipes providing at least 30g of oats per serving that are also low in saturated fat
  • 75g cooked pearl barley – added to stews, casseroles, in salads or use instead of rice to make a risotto
  • 40g serving of barley flakes

For example, 2 oat biscuits for breakfast plus 3 oatcakes for lunch OR a bowl of porridge for breakfast PLUS 75g cooked pearl barley in a stew PLUS 3 oat cakes as a snack.

OR just ONE daily portion of Oatwell products – Bran powder, instant drink mix, or oat bar

Boost your  fibre intake

You can boost your 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 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 (28 - 30g) 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 the right quantity 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 - 3g of plant sterol or stanols daily, as part of a low saturated fat diet, to lower your cholesterol. There are lots of foods now available in 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.

How to achieve your daily target

Choose just one of the following every day:

  • One sterol/stanol fortified mini drink or mini drink yogurt (70 - 100g bottle)
  • One 120g sterol/stanol fortified fruit yogurt pot OR
  • One 40g sterol/stanol fortified fruit and nut cereal bar

Or three of the following:

  • A large glass (250ml) sterol/stanol fortified skimmed milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) of sterol/stanol fortified spread

Always check the labels that the product is fortified with plant sterols or stanols and how much is provided in one serving (product recipes change often). Current products will provide anything from 0.54g to 2g sterols or stanols per single serve.   You should not exceed 3g plant sterols or sterols in one day.

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.