More of this, less of that for managing cholesterol

Holly HornerDietitian Blog, Health InformationLeave a Comment

Here is an easy guide for which foods you should seek out and which to avoid to help lower your cholesterol.
Increase your intake of:
Food Why What

Omega 3’s – consumption associated with better cardiovascular disease outcomes; helps to lower LDL and increase HDL. Oily fish are the highest sources – salmon, mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna

Other varieties are still very good sources – white fish, tuna, shellfish.

One meal of fresh salmon per week (150g) provides a weeks’ worth of Omega 3.

Oats Beta glucan helps to reduce the amount of fat actually absorbed in our food and inhibits absorption of dietary cholesterol that we eat. Any kind of oats, whether you like them rolled, instant, steel cut, or wholegrain.
Nuts and seeds Omega 3’s, poly and mono unsaturated fats (the heart healthy ones). Ground linseed, chia seeds, walnuts, edamame beans.
Legumes, fruit and vege

Fibre helps to keep you full and these foods are full of just that. Filling up on foods that contain absolutely no fat or cholesterol themselves, means you will be less likely to eat those that do! All types of legumes (split peas, chickpeas, beans, lentils), all fruit and vegetables (skins on if possible). A useful idea is to use legumes and vegetables in place of meat for one meal per week.
Plant sterols Plant sterols actually help to block cholesterol from being absorbed from your food and into your blood stream. Found in sterol fortified margarine (such as Flora proactive) and plant sterol weetbix. One rounded tablespoon on margarine or 2 weetbix per day gives you 2g of plant sterols – recommended daily intake for lowering cholesterol.
Exercise – not technically a food, but… Increasing exercise can help to increase your HDL. Whatever tickles your fancy! Housework, walking, resistance exercise, pool based activities… Think about ways you can increase movement throughout your day.


Decrease your intake of:
Food Why What
Deep fried foods and takeaways

These foods are typically high in saturated fats, salt and sugar. The saturated fat content will have the biggest effect on your cholesterol by increasing your LDL, while salt constricts your blood vessels increasing the risk of something getting ‘stuck’, and a high sugar intake will raise your triglycerides. Typical fast food chains (KFC, McD’s), most Chinese and Indian takeaways (unless you are choosing salads), pizza, fish and chips.


When you do have these foods, think about how you can still ‘indulge’ safely, by choosing a smaller serving size or having less often.

Fatty meats High in saturated fat and salt. Bacon, salami, processed ham or luncheon, Belgium sausage, meat toppings on pizza.
Commercially made baked products Typically made with loads of sugar and fat, generally the saturated kind. Biscuits, slices, cakes, pastries, muffins.

Look on the label for less than 10g fat per 100g.

Pastry items

Loads of saturated fat and salt. Pies and other products made with pastry.
Visible fat on meat This is where the majority of the saturated fat is. White streaks in meat, around the edge of meat e.g. on chops, skin on chicken. Either drain the fat that melts out of the meat during cooking – or use paper towels to absorb after cooking. Better still, try to buy lean cuts of meat and skinless chicken.
Full fat dairy products Some full fat dairy products contain quite a high percentage of saturated fats – e.g. butter, cheese and cream. Switch to a margarine free from palm and coconut oils. Save butter for that ‘special occasion’ such as when you make homemade scones! Limit cheese intake to once or twice per week and look for low fat alternatives such as cottage cheese, light cream cheese. Try a lower fat milk if you are a big milk drinker. If you are only drinking milk in your cups of tea, using a full fat variety probably won’t matter too much.
Coconut oil High in saturated fat. Use a lite variety of coconut cream or milk in cooking.


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