Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your daily diet can help to lower your cholesterol. Look out for the ‘Saturates’ or ‘sat fat’ number on food nutrition labels. It’s best to mostly eat foods with less than 1.5 grams of saturated fat (per 100 grams).
Make sure you check ‘Sugars’ as well on food labels, because some low fat foods can be very high in sugar. I try to aim for foods with as many green values as possible.
Here are some of the things I do to reduce the amount of saturated fat I eat:-
1. Cook with olive oil instead of butter
Olive oil is much lower in saturated fat and is also high in monounsaturated fat, which can help reduce cholesterol. I love cooking with infused olive oils. I use garlic oil when cooking fish and roasted vegetables, and chilli oil for stir fries and spicy chicken dishes. Basil infused olive oil makes a great salad dressing on its own – really simple, healthy and tasty.
2. Choose lean cuts of meat
I compare nutrition labels on food packaging to help me choose meats with the lowest saturated fat. I tend to base most of my main meals around chicken, turkey and fish. Here are some recipe ideas.
3. Trim visible fat and remove skin from meats
Another way I cut down on saturated fats is to trim any visible fat and take the skin off meat, although I always eat fish skin, especially when it’s nice and crispy.
4. Grill foods instead of frying
This reduces the amount of fat needed for cooking, and some of the meat fat will drain off during the cooking process. Olive oil sprays are great for grilling, especially for things like grilled peppers and sliced courgettes – just a few sprays is usually enough.
5. Replace whole milk with semi-skimmed
Semi-skimmed milk contains less saturated fat than whole milk, so if you drink quite a lot of milk, this is an easy way to reduce the amount of fat in your daily diet.
6. Choose back bacon instead of streaky bacon
Nothing beats a bacon sandwich, especially the morning after a big night out. I grill it instead of frying it, and choose back bacon to make it as low in fat as possible.
7. Eat poached or boiled eggs instead of fried
I tend to poach or boil eggs so that I don’t need to use any oil or butter. I’ve never got the hang of ‘proper’ poached eggs, so I cheat by using these silicone egg poachers:-
Just crack an egg into each, place in a saucepan with just enough boiling water to make them float, put a lid on the pan, then allow to simmer until the eggs are cooked to your liking (2-4 mins).
8. Use filo pastry instead of shortcrust or puff pastry
I was really surprised to find out that filo pastry is low in saturated fat, because it tastes so good. I scrunch up ready-made filo sheets from the supermarket and place on top of my normal pie fillings to make a delicious crunchy low fat topping (see my salmon pie recipe here). If you spray it with olive oil spray, it turns a nice golden brown.
I also make little parcels of curry or turkey and veg using a couple of sheets of filo, which is a great way of using up leftovers. See my turkey and mushroom filo parcel recipe here.
9. Use fat free natural yoghurt
You can buy some really delicious fat free (no added sugar) natural yoghurts from the supermarket. I love the ‘Yeo Valley Natural 0% Fat’ Yoghurt, which tastes really creamy. I add a spoonful to things like curries and chilli con carne just before serving.
10. Add beans and extra vegetables to your meals
I like to replace some of the meat in my meals with beans, like butter beans or chickpeas, or big chunky vegetable pieces like mushrooms, peppers and courgettes. Not only does this reduce the amount of saturated fat in the meal, but it’s a great way of turning a meal that serves 2 into a meal that serves 4, which means I don’t need to cook the following day.
Here are some cholesterol-friendly recipes with added beans and vegetables:-
- Chicken and vegetable curry (with chickpeas)
- Italian beef meatballs (with chickpeas/kidney beans)
- Spiced salmon filo pie (with chickpeas)
- Sausage and mushroom casserole (with butter beans)