5 tips to help lower cholesterol

Reduce the amount of saturated and trans fat you’re eating

In terms of altering your diet to reduce your cholesterol levels, the most important thing you can do is reduce the amount of saturated fat and trans fats you eat and replace them with healthier unsaturated fats. This is because a diet high in saturated fat and trans fats can increase the amount of LDL (bad cholesterol) in your bloodstream.

This has to do with the fact that saturated and trans fats hold more hydrogen atoms than unsaturated fats and are solid rather than liquid at room temperature, meaning they’re more prone to blocking up arteries.

Foods high in saturated fat include animal fats like butter, fatty meat, and full-fat dairy products like cream and cheese. Trans fats can also be found in some foods, including animal products like meat and dairy, but artificial trans fats are also found in lots of processed foods like packaged cookies and cakes, crips and crackers, and fried foods.

Unsaturated ‘healthy’ fats, however, are found mainly in foods like vegetable oils, fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds. The Omega-3 found in some of these foods containing unsaturated fats (for example, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, walnuts, flaxseeds, and canola oil) also brings many health benefits and can help prevent and treat heart disease and stroke.

Therefore, to reduce the amount of trans and saturated fat you’re eating, you could consider swapping out cuts of fatty red meat with leaner alternatives. For example, you could have a  chicken breast without the skin, cook with olive oil rather than butter, and opt for nuts (like cashews and almonds) instead of cake and biscuits for a snack.

You can find some further guidance on how to eat less saturated and trans fats and swap them with healthier alternatives here on the NHS website.

Consider including more plant-based proteins in your diet

There’s a common misconception that in order to get enough protein, you need to eat a lot of meat. But in fact, there’s increasing evidence that replacing animal proteins with plant-based protein can be beneficial to your health.

For example, one study showed that because plant-based proteins are lower in fat and cholesterol than animal protein, consumption of them can help lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and overall cholesterol levels.

Of course, this doesn’t have to mean cutting out meat entirely, but considering reducing your intake could make a big difference – plus, you’ll also be helping the environment. There are so many delicious sources of plant protein including pulses, nuts, seeds, cereals, and soya, and there’s also an ever-growing market of plant-based ‘meat’ alternatives, like products from Quorn, Linda McCartney, and Vivera, to name just a few.

For some recipe inspiration, you might like to try some of these high protein plant-based recipes by Crispy Foodie, or these 40 plant-based protein recipes by Chatelaine.

Make sure you’re getting plenty of fibre

It’s also a good idea to include plenty of fibre in your diet as this can have a positive impact on your cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. The NHS advise that adults should aim for at least 30g of fibre a day.

Foods high in fibre include wholemeal bread and wholegrain cereals, nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetables, oats and barley, and pulses such as beans, peas, and lentils.

Try using healthier cooking methods

As a general rule of thumb, fried foods tend to be higher in calories and trans fats because they’re often coated in oil, batter, or flour. Therefore, grilling, steaming, boiling, or poaching your food – or opting for these options if you’re eating out – can be helpful if you’re looking to reduce the amount of unhealthy fat in your diet.

If you love fried foods and this is sounding rather bleak to you, don’t worry – these healthy lifestyle changes don’t have to mean never eating your favourite foods again, but rather eating in moderation to help look after your cholesterol levels.

If you’re seeking some cooking inspiration, then you might like to read our articles 9 baking ideas with a healthy twist, 12 healthy recipes, and 14 quick and healthy snack ideas.

Author: wpadmin

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