10 ways to beat high cholesterol
By Casey O’Dell, Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)
Having your doctor tell you that your cholesterol is high can take you by surprise! Luckily there are diet and lifestyle changes that can prevent or delay the need for medication whether your high cholesterol is lifestyle related or perhaps genetic (or both!).
- Lose weight – reducing your fat-mass can reduce your ‘lousy’ (LDL) cholesterol
- Eat a small amount of red meat – no more than twice a week
- Have 2-3 alcohol free days per week – if you are a drinker, having a few days off per week is a good idea and when drinking, try to avoid having more than 2 drinks
- Eat oats – oats contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucan which actively prevents cholesterol from being re-absorbed.
- Eat natural plant sterols – plant sterols are naturally occurring compounds in foods which actively prevent cholesterol from being reabsorbed by the gut. They are in the most concentrated amounts in wheat bran, psyllium husks, peanuts, vegetable oils (canola, olive and sesame), almonds and Brussel sprouts.
- Eat foods fortified with plant sterols – having foods which are fortified with larger doses of plan sterols is a great way to reduce your cholesterol without the use of medication. There are several products on the market including milk, margarine and fortified cereals.
- Remove skin from chicken – the pocket under the skin of the chicken is where most of the fat is deposited.
- Eat fewer biscuits – biscuits, cakes and pastries tend to be made with butter which contains a large amount of saturated fat. Saturated fat will contribute to increasing cholesterol levels so try to limit the amount of these processed foods.
- Eat more salmon – omega 3 oils (also in sardines and other fatty fish, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts and soy & linseed bread) will naturally help to increase your ‘helpful’ (HDL) cholesterol which is independently protective for your heart.
- Make everything wholegrain – fibre (soluble and insoluble) ‘mops up’ cholesterol in the gut. It will bind to it and eliminate it through your bowels without being absorbed. Make the bread, pasta and rice you eat wholegrain, leave the skin on your fruit and vegetables, and eat more nuts and pulses.
Chatting to one of our Dietitians can help give you a wider understanding of fats in food and make more personalised plans to help beat high cholesterol without using medications.