Over 2 in 5 people in the UK have high cholesterol, putting them at an increased risk of developing heart disease. But there are foods that can be added to a normal diet to help reduce this trend
As LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) increase with age, a growing number of older adults are dealing with the worries of high cholesterol on a daily basis, and are having to adapt their diets accordingly.
Stewart Mcginn, Managing Director at Baycroft Care Homes, advises the best foods to eat to lower your cholesterol and lead a healthier life.
Oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and swordfish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help you to both lower or maintain good cholesterol levels.
These are essential fats that help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels, by lowering your triglyceride levels (the main component of body fat in people). For those with high cholesterol, fish is a healthier alternative to meat – especially red meat, which is high in saturated fats.
Wholegrain foods are a great way of introducing more fibre into your diet. For example, you can swap out your regular white rice, bread or pasta for healthier brown rice, wholemeal bread and wholewheat pasta.
But why is this beneficial? A high-fibre diet not only helps waste move through the digestive system quickly but also lowers the LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, which increases your chances of a stroke or heart disease).
Nuts and seeds
When trying to lower your cholesterol, it’s important to cut out saturated fats in your diet and replace them with healthier unsaturated fats like nuts.
Whether you want to sit snacking on a bag of healthy nuts or add them to savoury recipes or salads, they are good for the body as they contain fibre which can stop cholesterol from entering the bloodstream. Some great nut options to try are almonds, pistachios, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts.
Oats and barley
Oats and barley are good foods to incorporate into your diet when working on lowering your cholesterol.
Both ingredients contain a fibre called beta-glucan, which is a soluble fibre that forms a gel that attaches to the cholesterol in your intestines and prevents your body from absorbing it. Try swapping out your usual breakfast for porridge, as an easy way to add them to your diet.
Beans and pulses
Adding beans or pulses like baked beans, kidney beans, chickpeas or lentils to your diet can significantly lower your risk of heart disease, by lowering the body’s LDL (bad cholesterol).
You can easily start consuming more beans and pulses regularly by adding them into recipes, whether it’s a curry, a homemade soup, a chilli or even a variety of dips.
Fruits are high in a soluble fibre known as pectin and host many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, improving blood sugar and helping the body to maintain a healthy weight.
Fruits that are highest in pectin include; citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, pome fruits like pears and apples, and stone fruits like plums.
We’ve all been told about the importance of eating our greens, and when it comes to lowering cholesterol, it really is vital. From avocados and broccoli to Brussels sprouts, each green vegetable has a whole host of helpful nutrients to battle high cholesterol.
Avocados contain monounsaturated fats and fibre that lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. Broccoli contains high levels of fibre but also beta-carotene which prevents LDL (bad) cholesterol, and Brussels sprouts are full of vitamin C, which helps keep your blood vessels healthy and lowers blood pressure.
Before making any significant changes to your diet, it is important to seek medical advice from a doctor or healthcare professional, who can give you information that is tailored to your personal needs.