Through writing this blog over the last two years I’ve tried and tested lots of different ways to lower cholesterol naturally without having to resort to statins. Here’s a list of the tips I’ve found most useful in helping to lower my cholesterol and keep it low:-
1. Eat oats or beans every day
Oats and beans are two of the top cholesterol-lowering foods, so try to eat them every day. The recommended amounts are two thirds of a cup of oats and/or half a cup of beans. These two posts will give you some suggestions on how to add more cholesterol-lowering oats and beans to your daily diet:-
2. Add ground flaxseeds to your breakfast
Ground flaxseeds are another powerful cholesterol-reducing food, so aim to eat 1 tablespoon a day by adding them to your cereal, muesli, smoothies or pancakes, or use them in things like curries and casseroles.
3. Remove skin & fat from cooked meats
Eating the skin and fat from cooked meats can increase cholesterol, so it’s best to remove it where possible.
4. Snack on apples, almonds & walnuts
Apples, almonds and walnuts actively lower cholesterol, so including them in your daily snacks can help to reduce your cholesterol.
5. Eat mostly low sat fat foods
Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet can do wonders for your cholesterol levels. Aim to mostly eat foods that contain less than 1.5g saturated fat per 100g.
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.
6. Use houmous in sandwiches instead of mayo
Houmous is made from chickpeas, which are a great cholesterol-lowering food. Find one you like the taste of and use it in your sandwiches instead of mayonnaise. You could also make your own houmous at home – recipe here.
7. Replace whole milk with semi-skimmed
Whole milk contains 1.9g saturated fat per 100g, whereas semi-skimmed contains just 1.1g, so this swap can help to lower your cholesterol.
8. Eat high fibre bread
Eating high fibre wholemeal, seeded or rye bread can help to lower your cholesterol, as well as keeping you fuller for longer. Look for bread that’s low in saturated fat and has no added sugar – see this post for a list of options.
9. Sprinkle seeds on salads and vegetables
Seeds are packed with dietary fibre and healthy fats that can help to lower cholesterol, so adding them to salads and vegetables can be hugely beneficial for your heart health. Here are some more suggestions on how to eat more seeds every day.
10. Use rapeseed oil for cooking
Rapeseed oil, heralded as the ‘British olive oil’, is rich in unsaturated fats, making it a great choice for cholesterol-lowering cooking. It’s lower in saturated fat than olive oil and is one of the only unblended oils that can be heated to a high frying temperature without spoiling its nutrients or flavour. See this post for more on this.
11. Eat foods made with soya
Research suggests that soya products can help to reduce cholesterol naturally, so include foods like soya milk and yoghurts in your diet.
12. Snack on Edamame beans or olives
Edamame beans and olives are great cholesterol-lowering snacks and the best thing is they’re ready to eat and super healthy.
13. Eat lots of chicken, turkey and fish
Eat more lean meats, like chicken, turkey and fish, and fewer fatty meats, like pork and lamb. Beef is ok too (and important as a source of iron), as long as you go for the lower fat options like extra lean been mince and beef stir fry strips. Click here for recipe ideas.
14. Drink plant sterol or stanol yoghurt drinks
Research has shown that drinking one of these a day can significantly lower your cholesterol in just 3 weeks. I had a Benecol yoghurt drink after dinner every day for 6 weeks, and I’m certain they played a key part in reducing my cholesterol.
They’re not recommended for pregnant or breast feeding women and children under five years old, and also may not be suitable for anyone taking cholesterol lowering medication. It’s best to consult your GP before using any of Benecol’s products to make sure they’re suitable for your individual needs.
15. Snack on oatcakes with nut butter or houmous
Oatcakes make a great snack for any time of the day, and as they’re made of oats, can help to lower your cholesterol. Spreading them with nut butter or houmous can increase the cholesterol-lowering benefits even more.
16. Eat fat free natural yoghurt
Fat free natural yoghurt is a great cholesterol-friendly addition to all sorts of meals, like muesli, pancakes, chilli con carne and curries. It’s also a natural source of probiotics, which helps to maintain a healthy gut and immune system.
17. Sprinkle flaked almonds on curries
Almonds are one of the top cholesterol-lowering foods, so I try to eat them every day. Flaked almonds are very versatile and can be added to savoury dishes like curries, as well as muesli, pancakes and desserts.
18. Eat an oat-based breakfast
There are tons of different breakfasts that contain cholesterol-lowering oats, like porridge, muesli, smoothies and muffins – see this post for ideas and recipes.
19. Use basil-infused olive oil as a salad dressing
I found a delicious and inexpensive basil-infused olive oil at Tesco a couple of years ago, and have been using it on my salads ever since. I don’t like faffing around with making salad dressings, so this is ideal, and it also helps to lower cholesterol.
20. Add blueberries to your breakfast
Blueberries can help to increase your good cholesterol, and they also contain lots of other health benefiting plant-nutrients, such as soluble dietary fibre, minerals and vitamins.
21. Use cholesterol-lowering spreads
22. Add avocado to sandwiches and salads
The healthy fats in avocados help to lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, so are a great lunch addition. Spread avocado on bread instead of margarine to make your sandwiches more cholesterol-friendly.
23. Eat two portions of oily fish each week
Eating healthy unsaturated fats, like those found in oily fish, has been shown to increase good cholesterol levels. Examples of oily fish are salmon, fresh tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and herring.
24. Roast vegetables in garlic-infused olive oil
Instead of faffing around with mincing garlic to flavour roast vegetables, simply drizzle them with cholesterol-reducing garlic-infused olive oil before putting them in the oven.
25. Use rapeseed oil spray for pan frying
Rapeseed oil contains cholesterol-lowering healthy fats, so using a spray is a great way to pan fry vegetables and other quick-cook foods.
26. Replace white rice with brown rice
Brown rice contains more soluble fibre than white rice, which helps to increase your good cholesterol levels, and also keeps you full for longer. It takes a while to cook, so if you’re short of time, you can cheat by using microwavable packets.
27. Add apples, nuts and oats to your smoothies
Apples, nuts and oats are three of the top cholesterol-lowering foods, so packing them all into a daily smoothie can do wonders for your heart health. Try this delicious apple and mango smoothie recipe.
28. Use filo pastry instead of puff or shortcrust
You might be surprised to learn that filo pastry is low in saturated fat, so it can be included in a low-cholesterol diet plan.
29. Choose soups that contain barley or beans
Soup is a great lunch option if you’re short of time. To make sure they’re cholesterol-friendly, choose soups that contains less than 1.5g saturated fat per 100g, and preferably ones that contain barley or beans for extra cholesterol-lowering benefits.
30. Add sesame seeds or cashew nuts to stir fries
The healthy fats in nuts and seeds can help to lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, so adding them to meals like stir fries is an easy way to fit them into your diet, and they add a nice crunch too.