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UCLP© Step 3: The four UCLP© foods

The third step is to add in these cholesterol-lowering foods

In Step 1, 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 diet and make some simple changes. For Step 3, it’s time to add in some foods that will help to lower your cholesterol. 

If you found the previous step difficult, it might help to look back at the things you found motivating in Step 1. If you feel confident that you've built strong healthy eating foundations in Step 2, then now's the time to move onto Step 3. 

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 you 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 also tend to be low in saturated fat.

Using soya foods in place of full fat dairy foods, meat and other high saturated fat foods will help you to maintain a healthy cholesterol level. These include tofu, shelled young soya (edamame) beans, soya nuts, soya alternatives to milk and yogurts (these can be any flavour, such as plain, Greek-style or fruit), soya custard, soya nuts (roasted Edamame beans), soya mince and meat alternatives. 

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 each day?

It’s best to start with one to two servings a day, and gradually build up to 3, 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. It makes a great spag bol or chilli
  • 80g shelled young soya (edamame) beans – fresh or frozen. Great as a side vegetable, in salads or blended 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 alternative to yogurt, plain or Greek-style
  • 150g individual pot of fruit Greek-style plain soya alternative to yogurt

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 each day?

3g is the optimum daily amount of beta-glucans to help lower cholesterol, which you can achieve with three servings of any of the foods below, in any combination.

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 containing 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, this could look like:

  • 2 oat biscuits for breakfast plus 3 oatcakes for lunch
  • a bowl of porridge for breakfast plus 75g cooked pearl barley in a stew plus 3 oat cakes as a snack

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 each day?

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 each day?

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 work by mixing with the food you have eaten.

Always check the labels to check 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 serving.

You should not exceed 3g plant sterols or sterols in one day.

How to achieve your daily target

Choose just one of the following:
  • One sterol/stanol fortified mini drink or mini drink yogurt (70 - 100g bottle) OR
  • One 115g sterol/stanol fortified fruit yogurt pot 
Or three of the following:
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) of sterol/stanol fortified spread

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.

Have a look at our full range of UCLP© resources