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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 choosing healthier foods, losing weight can help lower cholesterol.

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

Lower cholesterol tips at home


  • Read the labels carefully! That may say it's only 330 calories a serving, but did you notice that there are 3 servings in the package?
  • Replace saturated fat rich products such as ghee, butter, palm oil, lard and coconut oil with products containing healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive, rapeseed and sunflower oils and spreads.
  • Eat fish twice a week, and make one of them oily (non-white fleshed fish). Oily fish is rich in omega-3 fats that helps maintain heart health.
  • Consider sterol or stanol-enriched foods, such as spreads. These can help to reduce LDL cholesterol levels as part of a healthy balanced diet. Or consider taking a one-a-day stanol or sterol-ester ‘shot’ drink before or after your main meal for maximum cholesterol-lowering effect.
  • It's OK to snack between meals on a diet to lower cholesterol. In fact, eating 5 or 6 small meals a day instead of 3 large ones can help you avoid "crashing" between meals and overeating. Stock up on healthy snacks like carrot sticks, apples or a small handful of nuts.
  • Switch from white breads and pasta to wholewheat varieties for more heart-healthy fibre.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Cut back on fizzy drinks, large glasses of fruit juice and alcohol. Hydrate with water instead. If you must have fizzy drinks, switching to diet drinks will cut both sugar and calorie intake.
  • Close the night kitchen. Snacking in front of the TV after dinner is the source of many unnecessary calories. Close the kitchen at a certain time - say, 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed - and don't open the fridge or the cupboards after that time. If you feel peckish - chew some gum.


Eating out

As a nation we love to eat out. However, if it’s a regular feature of your social life you should consider these simple tips for enjoyment and health.

Before you order

  • If you are trying a new restaurant, take time to study the menu. Not sure which of 2 choices to go for? Choose the one that sounds the healthiest, ingredient wise.
  • Is the bread basket and butter left in front of you on the table? Pass it around and make sure it’s not in your reach. If you’re still tempted, don’t deliberate on what to choose. Pick up the smallest piece possible, ideally the one with seeds.
  • Ask for water at the table, and drink a glass before your food arrives.
  • 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), or those coated in a rich cheesy sauce.
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