It’s estimated that more than half of UK adults have a cholesterol level above the recommended amount – but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you have elevated cholesterol, a diet that’s healthy, balanced, and targets the risk factors can really turn things around.
We often think of a diet as a strict eating regimen, but diets for lowering cholesterol are better thought of as just a few changes to your normal eating habits. Breaking down your cholesterol lowering efforts into smaller steps also makes the process feel much easier and more attainable.
Any changes to your normal diet – to lower cholesterol or otherwise – should be informed by the advice of a healthcare professional. But to help you get going, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to getting started.
Step 1: Define the goal of your diet to lower cholesterol
As with any new initiative, you’ll be much more motivated if you have an end goal in mind. If you don’t know your cholesterol level, get tested, and see how far off you are from the recommendations here.
If you have elevated cholesterol, it’s not going to go away instantly, so have a chat with a healthcare professional about your levels and find out what’s realistic within a certain space of time. When it comes to cholesterol diets, the key to reaching your goals is often making sure they are achievable from the start, so try not to be too ambitious at this stage.
Step 2: Do your research on diets for cholesterol lowering
This is a slightly dramatic way of saying that to start a new diet for lowering cholesterol, you need to know what the causes of elevated cholesterol are and the changes you need to make. Your doctor should be able to talk you through the essentials, and we also have lots of guides with cholesterol diet advice to help:
- Find out the causes of elevated cholesterol
- Learn how to lower cholesterol
- Find out why saturated and unsaturated fats matter**
- Discover how plant sterols lower cholesterol*
Step 3: What needs to change?
When you want to lower cholesterol, diet advice is everywhere, and there are a number of things that can help. To meet your target, you need to work out what it is that’s stopping you from making these changes at the moment. Maybe you struggle to resist unhealthy snacks in the office, or don’t know many recipes that fit in well with a balanced diet – either way, honestly recognising the barriers to success is an important step.
Step 4: Start your diet to lower cholesterol
Now you know the things standing in your way, it’s time to make some practical changes. What you need to do will depend on your diet and lifestyle at the moment, but here are resources to help you start a diet for lowering cholesterol:
- Read our guide to creating a cholesterol lowering diet plan here.
- Browse our bank of cholesterol lowering recipes here.
- Check our range of cholesterol-lowering products.
- Get support by trying the 21 Day Challenge App here, which provides helpful tips every day to help you lower cholesterol levels.
- Download our free Cholesterol Lowering Starter Kit here, and get helpful tips and recipes to help you start lowering your cholesterol today.
Step 5: Review your progress
After you’ve been working on your lifestyle changes for four weeks, stop and have a proper think about how it’s going. It might be helpful to write down what you feel you have achieved at this point – has your healthy diet to lower cholesterol made you feel better or more energised, for example? Activities like this can identify the important progress you have made, and the notes are good to look at when you’re not feeling so motivated. Next, think about some of the challenges you’ve encountered. How might you get over them in the future? What have you learned so far that you can apply next time around?
By breaking your plan for a cholesterol lowering diet down into small steps with achievable goals at each stage, you can transform your habits bit-by-bit until you reach your goal. You don’t have to do it alone, either: remember to involve friends and family, so that they can support you along the way. Good luck!
*Flora ProActiv contains plant sterols. A daily intake of 1.5 – 2.4g sterols can lower cholesterol by 7 – 10% in 2 – 3 weeks as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle including plenty of fruits and vegetables.High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. As coronary heart disease has many risk factors, more than one may need to be improved to reduce overall risk. Individual results may vary. It is recommended that no more than 3g plant sterols a day are eaten.
**Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. As coronary heart disease has many risk factors, more than one may need to be improved to reduce overall risk.