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A diet to lower cholesterol and lose weight

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

What you eat counts in a diet to lower cholesterol, but so does how much you eat.

As well as eating fewer 'bad fats', such as saturated fats, and more 'good fats', losing weight can help lower cholesterol.

Being overweight increases your risk of having high LDL bad cholesterol, and low HDL good cholesterol. Often, just losing weight can help you lower your cholesterol.

Lower cholesterol tips at home

  • Read the labels carefully! That package of pasta may say it's only 330 calories a serving, but did you notice that there are three servings in the package?
  • Replace saturated fats with the healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive, rapeseed or sunflower oils and spreads.
  • Eat oily fish regularly as it is rich in omega-3 fats that can help to lower blood triglyceride levels.
  • Consider sterol or stanol-enriched foods, such as spreads. These can help to reduce LDL cholesterol levels as part of a healthy balanced diet.
  • It's okay to snack between meals on a diet to lower cholesterol. In fact, eating five or six small meals a day instead of three large ones can help you avoid "crashing" between meals and overeating. Stock up on healthy snacks like carrot sticks, apples and berries.
  • Switch from white breads and pasta to wholewheat varieties for more heart-healthy fibre.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Cut back on fizzy drinks, fruit juice, and alcohol. Hydrate with water instead. If you must have fizzy drinks, switching to diet drinks will save you hundreds of calories.
  • Close the night kitchen. Snacking in front of the TV after dinner is the source of many an empty calorie. Close the kitchen at a certain time - say, two to three hours before you go to bed - and don't open the fridge or the cupboards after that time.

Eating out

Many restaurants offer delicious, low-fat, low- cholesterol meals. These tips will help you make eating out healthy and enjoyable.

Before you order

  • If you are familiar with the menu, decide what to order before entering the restaurant. This tactic will help you to avoid any tempting foods that may not be particularly healthy.
  • If you are trying a new restaurant, take time to study the menu in order to avoid making unhealthy decisions.
  • Ask the serving staff to remove temptations, such as butter, from the table.
  • Drink two full glasses of water before your food arrives.
  • Avoid foods described in the following way: buttery, buttered, fried, pan-fried, creamed, escalloped or au gratin (with cheese).
  • If you want to eat bread, choose wholegrain rolls without spreads.

When you order

  • Order foods that are steamed, broiled, grilled, stir-fried, or roasted.
  • Order potatoes baked, boiled, or roasted instead of fried. Ask the waiter to omit any butter and sour cream.
  • Order first so that you will not be influenced by other's choices.
  • For appetisers, order broth-based soups such as minestrone or gazpacho.
  • Choose seafood, chicken, or lean meat rather than fatty meats; remove all visible fat from any meat.
  • Order broiled, baked, grilled, steamed or poached entrees.
  • Ask the staff to substitute low-fat foods for high-fat foods. For example, ask for steamed vegetables instead of chips.
  • Ask the chef to remove the skin from poultry and to prepare your food without butter or cream sauces. Or ask for the sauce on the side so you can control how much you eat.
  • Ask the server about ingredients or preparation methods for the dishes you're not familiar with.
  • Order vegetable side dishes without sauces or butter or ask them to put them on the side.
  • For dessert, order sorbet or fresh, seasonal fruit without whipped cream or a topping.
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