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Switch full-fat milk for skimmed and choose red wine instead of white: Easy food swaps to cut your cholesterol

Mirror logo Mirror 28/11/2017 Kim Jones
a close up of a white plate © Getty

Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol isn’t all bad. This waxy, fat-like substance plays a vital role in our body. 

There are two types: LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) and HDL (‘good’ cholesterol).

High levels of LDL can build up in artery walls, raising the risk of heart disease but ‘good’ cholesterol helps carry excesses of the bad kind out of the body, protecting against heart disease.

Your Total Cholesterol Measurement should ideally be 5mmol/L or less; LDL-Cholesterol 3mmol/L or less; and HDL-Cholesterol over 1mmol/L for men and 1.2mmol/L for women.

If you’ve had a high reading, here are some simple swaps to help get your cholesterol levels back on track...

a bowl of fruit: Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Getty

Switch: Full-fat milk - Skimmed milk

Why? “Full-cream milk contains saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol levels,” says registered dietitian Linda Main, co-author with Baldeesh Rai of 4 Steps to Lower Cholesterol.

Try it Today: First, switch to semi-skimmed in tea and coffee, then in your cereals for a couple of weeks before moving on to skimmed. “Your palate will fine-tune itself to the thinner, less creamy consistency of skimmed milk if you give it time to adjust,” says Linda.

Switch: 3pm Biscuits - Unsalted nuts

Why? Biscuits are high in saturated fat. Linda says: “Unsalted nuts are just as convenient to snack on and the fibre, protein and good fats in them help keep hunger at bay and lower cholesterol.” Studies show they can raise ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and lower LDL.

Try it today: “Keep nuts on your desk or in your handbag, so if you’re hungry or tempted by other snacks you have your preferred one at hand,” says Linda. Choose from walnuts, almonds, pistachios, Brazils and cashews. Uncooked and unsalted are best. Eat in moderation as they are calorific.

Switch: Meat - Pulses

a pile of fruit on display: Credits: Getty Images © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Getty Images

Why? Pulses (such as beans, lentils, chickpeas) are not only low in fat but also a good source of protein and soluble fibre. Linda says: “Soluble fibre has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering properties. It dissolves in water in the gut to form a gel-like substance a bit like wallpaper paste. But instead of sticking to the walls of your intestines, it soaks up cholesterol, like a sponge, and carries it out of the body.”

Try it today: Linda says: “Select recipes where you can add pulses and minimise red meat content, such as chilli, casseroles, soups, salads and stir fries. The great selection of canned beans and pulses available makes it easy to incorporate them into many recipes.” 

a bowl of food: Credits: Getty Images © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Getty Images

Switch: Sugary breakfast cereals - Porridge

Why? “Oats contain a special form of soluble fibre called beta glucan – one of the most effective forms,” says Linda. Look for ‘rougher’ oats as they probably contain more beta-glucan than the smoother processed instant type.

Try it Today: Resist sweetening porridge with sugar and try adding strawberries, blueberries or raspberries instead. Research has shown berries can boost levels of good HDL cholesterol. If you don’t like porridge you can add oats to your diet by snacking on oatcakes.

Switch: Pork stir fry - Tofu stir fry

Why? “Pork is high in cholesterol, particularly if you don’t trim off visible fat before cooking,” says Will Hawkins, nutritionist at online GP service Push Doctor (pushdoctor.co.uk). “Tofu contains plant-based compounds known as isoflavones. These reduce LDL before it has a chance to clog

your arteries.”

Try it today: Stir fry your tofu as you would pork, with plenty of veg. “People find tofu more palatable if it’s served with plenty of sauce,” adds Will.

Switch: Creamy salad dressings - Olive oil

Why? Will says: “Dressings such as Caesar and ranch may taste nice, but they’re extremely calorific and will certainly have a negative impact on your cholesterol.

“Many people don’t realise this and cover their healthy salad in dressings high in saturated fat.

“Often, the nutritional information on bottles relates to a serving size far smaller than what many people use. Extra virgin olive oil is better. It contains monounsaturated fat, which helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

“It also lowers inflammation, protects LDL from oxidation, improves the function of blood vessel linings and helps prevent unwanted blood clotting.”

Try it today: “Instead of lettuce, cucumber and tomato, serve roasted Mediterranean vegetables as a side dish. Drizzle olive oil over the top to bring the flavours together,” says Will.

Switch: Treacle pudding - Stewed fruit dessert

Why? Will says: “Given the choice between a high-sugar dessert and one with fresh fruit, it’s not hard to work out which option has the best chance of keeping your cholesterol down,” says Will. “A lot of puddings are made with butter, a sure-fire way to send your cholesterol soaring. Fruit provides natural sweetness for your taste buds.”

Try it today: “A bowl of stewed apples or pears is a healthy option - but with no sugar added, of course,” says Will. If you love stewed fruit crumbles, add oats to the mixture for a cholesterol-lowering boost.

Switch: White wine - Red wine

a glass of red wine: Credits: PA © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: PA

Why? When it comes to alcoholic drinks, red wine is the one that can lower cholesterol.

Israeli University researchers found diabetic patients who drank red with their evening meals for two years had higher levels of ‘good’ HDL and lower total cholesterol levels at the end of the study. Another Spanish University study found consuming a grape supplement found in red wine lowered ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels by up to 12% in volunteers.

Try it today: Too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and increase your risk of cancer so watch your units (health guidelines suggest no more than 14 units a week for men and women). An average bottle of red wine (13.5%) contains 10 units. A small (125ml) glass contains 1.5 units.

Pictures: 30 tips to help reduce high cholesterol levels

Se sofre de colestrol confira estas 30 dicas!: O colesterol é uma gordura necessária ao organismo que é fabricada por ele e também pela alimentação e existem dois tipos - HDL- o colesterol bom e o LDL - o vilão. Para que o corpo funcione bem é necessário que haja um equilíbrio entre os dois de forma a evitar problemas cardiovasculares e ou derrames cerebrais causados pelos altos índices de colesterol. A alimentação equilibrada e o exercício físico são essenciais para que possa viver de forma saudável. 30 tips to help reduce high cholesterol levels

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