If you’re aiming for lower cholesterol levels over the year ahead, following a clear cholesterol diet plan is a fantastic way to build good habits.
Previously, it was thought that reducing cholesterol involved cutting out foods high in dietary cholesterol content, like eggs or shrimp, but these days a cholesterol-lowering diet looks very different. More recent studies show that the amount of saturated fat in your diet, and what you replace it with, is much more important – among other things*.
To help you revamp your eating habits, we’ve created a handy cholesterol-lowering diet plan to download and print off here.
The tips below are also here to make customisation simple by outlining the basics, so you can easily craft a cholesterol diet plan to suit you.
How to plan a cholesterol-lowering diet
- Include plenty of fruit and vegetables. While this doesn’t actively reduce cholesterol, getting your five-a-day is the basis of any healthy diet. When making your plan, include vegetables as side dishes, meat alternatives, or use them to bulk up one-pot dishes like curries and casseroles. Fruit makes a great dessert or cereal topping, and a tasty smoothie makes a great breakfast.
- Get fat-savvy. Saturated fats have been linked to an increase in LDL or “bad” cholesterol – something you’ll need to take into account when planning a diet for lowering cholesterol. Saturated fats can be found in:
o Full fat milk
o Red fatty meats and meat products
- Swap bad fats for good fats. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol**, which is why it’s a good idea to replace foods high in saturated fat with foods containing plenty of unsaturated fat, such as:
o Vegetable oils
o Vegetable oil based spreads
o Oily Fish
- Embrace reduced fat and unsaturated fat alternatives. While many (full fat) dairy products are high in saturated fat, you don’t have to avoid dairy in your plan – switching from full fat milk to skimmed milk, full fat cheese to reduced fat cheese, or from butter to soft spreads like Flora ProActiv, is another way to reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet. This frees up space in the recommended total daily fat intake for more foods high in unsaturated fat*.
- Make room for high fibre foods in your plan. To up your fibre intake, choose brown and wholegrain versions of cupboard staples like bread, pasta, and rice, rather than white or plain versions.
Getting plenty of fruit and vegetables is also important, along with grains like oats or barley – consider including oat cereal or porridge topped with chopped dried or fresh fruit in your low cholesterol plan. A daily intake of 3g of beta-glucan (a kind of fibre found in oats) can lower cholesterol as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle**.Pulses like beans, lentils, and peas are also great sources of fibre, easy to slip into stews, curries, or chunky soups.
- Buy oily fish like herring, mackerel, sardines, salmon, and trout, and write them into your plan once a week. Oily fish is rich in flavour as well as in unsaturated fat, and part of an overall healthy balanced diet, which helps maintain cholesterol levels***. There are a number of ways to prepare it – to get started, you could try adding one of the ProActiv recipes here to your cholesterol-lowering diet sheet:
o Citrus Sardines – this vibrant recipe looks stunning on the plate and wonderfully combines a delicious blend of spices with the freshness of lemon.
o Baked Trout with Almonds – boasting the benefits of nuts and oily fish, this delicately flavoured dish is wonderful with crushed potatoes and fresh greens.
o Smoked Mackerel Pate – quick to prepare and full of flavour, this easy snack is the perfect light starter to impress guests.For more recipes to include in your cholesterol-lowering diet plan, have a look at our database.
- Pick up plant sterols. A daily consumption of 1.5 – 2.4g of plant sterols can lower cholesterol by 7-10% in 2-3 weeks, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle with sufficient fruit and vegetables**. They are are found in small amounts in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds, but it’s not possible to consume the recommended dose of 2g of plant sterols per day required for cholesterol-lowering with such foods. Incorporating foods with added plant sterols – such as those in the ProActiv range –into a diet plan, either as a spread, yoghurt mini drink, or milk, is an easy way to ensure these helpful substances are a part of your cholesterol-lowering diet.
- Treat yourself! It’s important to ensure that your cholesterol-lowering diet plan anticipates the desire for a small treat every now and again. If you have a few healthy desserts or snacks on hand, you’ll be less likely to dive straight for old standbys like cake or crisps, which are often high in saturated fat.If you’re in the mood to cook, try including one of our recipes for snacks or desserts on your diet sheet for lowering cholesterol. If not, consider replacing foods high in saturated fat with options containing less. Swap:
o Crisps for tortilla chips. Liven your snack up by creating your own salsa using fresh ingredients like tomato, onion, garlic, coriander and chillies – it’s a delicious way to get another one of your five-a-day.
o Cake for malt loaf. Malt loaf is wonderfully filling, as well as a bit of a treat. Spread with Flora ProActiv Buttery (up to 5g per slice of bread) for a delicious topping.
o Chocolate for nuts. Nuts are a great source of unsaturated fat. If chocolate is what you crave, try a small portion of chocolate-coated nuts instead.
It’s not the end of the world if you slip up every now and again, but you might find that following a set plan will help you settle into a cholesterol-lowering diet. Then, once you have the basics down, it’s easy to improvise, be spontaneous, and even cook up a storm! For more support and advice on how to get started, download our Cholesterol Lowering Starter Kit right here.
*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. There are many risk factors for coronary heart disease and it is important to take care of all of them to reduce the overall risk of it.
***Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.