Dietary changes for high total or LDL cholesterol
- Choose healthier fats: Cut down on unhealthy sources of fats high in saturated and trans fats which can raise cholesterol levels. These can be found in foods such as fatty and processed meats, chicken skin, butter, ghee, cream and hard cheeses, coconut or palm oil, pies, pastries, biscuits, crackers, fast foods and deep-fried potato or slap chips. Replace these with healthier fats rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats such as plant oils, peanut butter, nuts and seeds, avocado and fish.
- Eat high fibre foods. Soluble fibre especially helps to lower cholesterol levels and can be found in foods such as oats, lentils, beans, vegetables and fruit. Increase daily dietary fibre intake by choosing high fibre whole-grain options, eating at least 5 fruit and vegetables daily and including a wide variety of legumes such as beans, peas, lentils and soya.
- Weight loss. Even as little as 2-5 kg weight loss already starts to improve raised blood cholesterol levels.
- Eat food high in dietary cholesterol in moderation. Certain foods, notably eggs, organ meats, shellfish and red meat in general contain cholesterol. However, dietary cholesterol in food does not typically make a great contribution to blood cholesterol. It is more important to eat foods low in saturated and trans fats. Most people that eat a generally healthy diet can consume roughly 7 eggs a week and do not need to avoid occasionally eating high-cholesterol foods like shellfish or liver. In cases where cholesterol levels are very high or uncontrolled, a doctor or dietitian may suggest limiting these foods.
- Add plant sterols or stanols. When used as part of a healthy diet, plant sterols or stanols can help to lower cholesterol levels by up to 10-15% by reducing the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine. This could be provided by sterol-enriched foods such as Flora pro-activ.