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Nutrition

4 brilliant foods to lower your cholesterol

If you’ve been told you need to reduce your cholesterol levels, there are four foods you could try to eat every day.

Soluble fibre, plant stanols and sterols, soy protein and nuts are known to lower cholesterol. This is according to research by the British Heart Foundation.

Eating these four as part of your healthy diet can lower your cholesterol level by up to 24%, as much as a low-dose statin. However, you must not stop taking your prescribed medication.

Soluble fibre

Porridge is a great way to start the day – for more reasons that one. Eating a 70g bowl of porridge a day is equal to consuming 3g of beta glucan (a soluble, cholesterol-lowering fibre). 3 grams is regarded as the optimum amount of beta glucans to reduce ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Other rich sources of soluble fibre are barley (such as pearl barley), oat bran and wholegrains, such as wholegrain cereals, breads, brown rice and whole wheat pasta.

Other good sources of soluble fibre are fruit and vegetables. Some options are: apples, citrus fruits, strawberries, prunes, plums, avocados, aubergines, carrots, broccoli, okra, sweet potatoes and onions. Pulses are also excellent sources: kidney beans, soya beans, peas, lentils or chickpeas.

Plant sterols and stanols (phytosterols)

According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, plant sterols and stanols (phytosterols) – used in brands such as Flora ProActiv and Benecol – can lower cholesterol . Stenols and stanols are found naturally in plants and absorb ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. This reduces LDL levels by up to 10% when you eat 2g a day regularly as part of a healthy balanced diet.

(These products are recommended for adults who have been diagnosed with raised cholesterol. They shouldn’t be given to children under 5 or women who are currently breastfeeding.)

Soya protein

Soya is a great source of vegetable protein, low in saturated fat and high in fibre. Soya also includes special proteins that appear to influence how the body regulates cholesterol. Swap cow’s milk for soya milk or try soya yogurts as snacks. Other sources include soya beans or mince as well as tofu. Some studies show that by eating 15g of soya protein a day you can lower your cholesterol by around 6%.

Nuts and seeds

If you opt for the unsalted, unsweetened varieties, 30g of nuts a day are a great addition to your diet. Nuts contain healthy unsaturated fats and soluble fibre. This can help to lower cholesterol by up to 7.5%. Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, natural peanuts and pistachios are all excellent choices.

For more information on lowering your cholesterol see Heart UK and the British Heart Foundation.