Five ways to lower cholesterolNews /
Did you know cholesterol in food only plays a small part in increasing our bodies’ cholesterol levels? But what we eat has a big role to play in managing our cholesterol and heart health. Consistently poor eating habits, combined with a lack of physical activity can lead to unhealthy weight gain, which can also raise levels of unhealthy (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower levels of HDL cholesterol which can negatively affect your heart health.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol) is often called the ‘good cholesterol’ because it helps to remove other forms of cholesterol from your bloodstream and helps to keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) is often called the ‘bad cholesterol’ because it is the main source of cholesterol build-up and blockage in the arteries.
Time and time again we hear that balance is the key to health. There are some foods that can improve LDL cholesterol levels and eating these foods in moderate amounts can help keep us fighting fit. Foods containing healthier fats or soluble fibre are great examples of this. So with this in mind, here are some delicious ideas that can help you eat your way to a healthier heart.
Oats can provide a healthy way to start your day- they’re not only filling, but also full of soluble fibre. With a recommended daily fibre intake of 25-30 grams for adults (less for kids), a serve of oats can get you up to four grams and you can boost this even more by coupling it with some fruit and nuts. Check out our porridge recipe which packs-a-punch when it comes to fibre (along with a boost of healthier fats from the nuts!).
Legumes (or pulses) like chickpeas, lentils and baked beans are another great source of soluble fibre. For an easy lunch, you can throw together our farro with broad bean salad or delicious smokey bean and beef burrito bowl, which is packed full of red kidney beans. Combine legumes with veggies, like our healthy lentil pilaf, for a bonus boost.
With the cholesterol-lowering potential of healthier unsaturated fats, including foods rich in omega-3 (a type of polyunsaturated fat), you can add some healthy variety to your diet. Fish is a rich source of omega-3 and you can add more value by adding wholegrains, like in this sticky baked salmon and rice.
Apples, berries and citrus fruits contain a type of soluble fibre called pectin and are a delightful addition to a sweet treat. We've got some mouth-watering dessert options, including apple cinnamon crepes and a wonderful fruit crumble, which contains the fibre-filled goodness of both fruits and oats.
Nuts and seeds are a rich source of cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fats. A small handful as a snack between larger meals can keep you feeling fuller for longer, and regular consumption is linked to lower levels of LDL cholesterol.
Other key tips
- Use healthier oils. Saturated and trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, so switch to fruit, nut or seed-based oils and spreads (such as canola, olive or sunflower) rather than choosing butter and other animal-based fats.
- Include a variety of healthy proteins. With this in mind, lean cuts of meat and reduced fat dairy products can also help keep your cholesterol down and your heart health up!
- Including foods fortified with plant sterols can also help to reduce LDL cholesterol. Read more about plant sterols.