Lowering your cholesterol levels with good nutrition

What is a balanced diet?

The key to a healthy diet is:

  • Eating the right amount of food for how active you are
  • Eating a range of foods to ensure you are getting all the nutrients and energy your body needs

What constitutes as a healthy diet?

A healthy, balanced diet should contain a variety of food from all the main food categories, including lots of fruit and vegetables, starchy foods such as wholemeal bread and wholegrain cereals; protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs and lentils; and dairy foods. Foods containing sugar and fat should only be eaten in moderation.

Tips to help you lead a healthier lifestyle and lower your cholesterol levels

  • Start with starches: Starchy foods such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes give us energy. Choose ‘wholegrain' rather than refined varieties. They contain more nutrients and fibre which releases energy slowly making you feel fuller for longer
  • Five a day: Try to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. The portion may be fresh, frozen, canned or freshly juiced
  • Cut down on salt: Around 75 per cent of the salt in our diet comes from processed foods, so cook using fresh ingredients when you can. Check food labels and avoid foods that are high in salt. 6g salt (2.4g sodium) should be your daily maximum
  • Cut back on sugar: Sugar is often known as ‘empty calories' as it contains only calories with no other nutrients. Check food labels to work out if a food is high (more than 15g sugars per 100g) or low in sugar (5g sugars or less per 100g)
  • Eat the right fats: We all need to have a small amount of fat in our diets; but what is important is the kind of fat you are eating. Cut back on saturated fat, which can raise your cholesterol found in fatty meat, full fat dairy products, cakes and pastries:

Total fat:

  • High is more than 20g fat per 100g
  • Low is less than 3g fat per 100g

Saturated fat:

  • High in saturates is 5g or more per 100g
  • Low in saturates is 1g or less per 100g
  • Start your day off with breakfast: A healthy breakfast provides fuel to help the body function more effectively throughout the day
  • Don't forget fish: Eat at least two portions of fish per week, one of those to be oily fish, such as sardines, salmon, trout, pilchards and mackerel for a valuable source of protein and omega-3 fats
  • Maintain a healthy weight, or aim to lose weight if you are overweight: If you're worried about your weight, ask your GP for advice
  • Water is essential for life: Have at least 6 to 8 glasses (1.5 to 2 litres) of water or other fluids over the day to avoid getting dehydrated – more if you are hot or exercising
  • If you drink alcohol, be sensible: That's no more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day for men and 2-3 for women