1. Eat more foods that actively lower bad cholesterol
This includes oats, apples, beans, nuts, seeds, olive oil, soya products, garlic and plant sterols or stanols. Aim to eat at least a few different foods from this list every day (see this page for recommended serving sizes).
These posts give suggestions on how to include more apples, beans, oats and seeds in your daily diet:-
- 26 ways to eat more apples to help lower your cholesterol
- 8 ways to add more cholesterol-reducing beans to your diet
- How to eat more oats to help lower your cholesterol
- 5 ways to eat more seeds every day
2. Eat foods that increase good cholesterol
As well as reducing your bad cholesterol (LDL), increasing your good cholesterol (HDL) can also improve your heart health. Foods that increase good cholesterol include olive oil, brown rice, salmon, avocados and blueberries.
Click here for tips on how to include more of these foods in your daily diet.
3. Eat mostly foods that are low in saturated fat
Aim to mostly eat foods that contain less than 1.5g saturated fat per 100g. This post includes tips on how to reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet. And this post lists 6 surprising foods that you might not think are low in saturated fat but actually are (like fish fingers and chips!).
Important note:- Most oily fish, nuts and oils contain more than 1.5g of saturated fat, but these are ok to include in a cholesterol-lowering diet because they contain a higher proportion of healthy unsaturated fats.
4. Start by making small changes
I’d recommend not changing your diet too drastically to begin with. It’s best to start with small changes, like using semi-skimmed milk instead of whole milk, and wholemeal bread instead of white.
Then once you get used to those changes, make a few more adjustments, like replacing your current breakfast cereal with a high fibre alternative. For more ideas, read these posts:-
- 10 simple cholesterol diet food swaps
- Which are the best breakfast cereals for lowering cholesterol?
- 10 simple ways to make your lunches more cholesterol friendly
- Which types of bread are best for lowering cholesterol?
5. Follow the 80:20 rule
I aim to eat cholesterol-friendly foods 80% of the time, then eat whatever I like for the rest of the time, in sensible portions (e.g. burgers, pizzas and chocolate brownies). This stops me from getting bored, and has helped me stick to my low cholesterol diet over the last few years and keep my cholesterol levels down.
Note, this may not work for everyone, so please consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.
6. Keep trying out new recipes so that you don’t get bored
There are so many free cholesterol-friendly recipes available online, most of which are pretty easy to make. Here are some of my favourites:-
- Apple Recipes
- Bean Recipes
- Breakfast Recipes
- Chicken Recipes
- Dessert Recipes
- Oat Recipes
- Soup Recipes
- Vegan Recipes
- Vegetarian Recipes
Or if you’re short of time, try these quick meal and snacks.
If you want to create your own cholesterol-friendly recipes, this list of cholesterol-friendly foods should help you decide what ingredients to use, and here’s a list of cholesterol-friendly dressings, dips and sauces.
EXTRA TIME-SAVING TIP: Double up your recipes and freeze half of it to eat on another day. Here’s a list of great cholesterol-friendly freezable meals.
7. Use food label traffic lights
If you’re buying pre-prepared meals, it’s best to choose meals that contain less than 1.5g saturated fat per 100g – these will show as a green coloured ‘Saturates’ or ‘Sat Fat’ segment on the food label. Ideally you want lots of greens and no reds on the food label for an all-rounded healthy lunch. Click here to see a list of cholesterol-friendly lunch options from places like M&S, EAT, Pret a Manger, Sainsbury’s and Itsu.
8. Go easy on yourself when you’re on holiday
I prefer to enjoy myself when on holiday and not worry about sticking too rigidly to my low cholesterol diet. Again, this might not suit everyone, but it works for me and helps me to stay on track in the long term.
This post includes simple tips on how to incorporate some cholesterol-friendly foods into your holiday meals without missing out.