A review of the research (Cochrane 2012) found that by modifying the types of fat we eat the risk of heart attack or stroke was reduced by 14%. We also know from this research that simply cutting out saturated fat isn’t the answer – there are now plenty of ways your diet can lower cholesterol and improve heart health.

To understand which dietary changes will benefit you the most, you must ‘know your numbers’. There are 3 main lipids that make up your total cholesterol (TC). LDL is considered a ‘bad’ fat because it causes damage and blockages in your blood system. Triglycerides (TG) are arguably the most harmful fat and makes significant contributions to heart disease. HDL is considered a ‘good’ cholesterol and has a protective effect on your vascular system.

Foods and lifestyle changes that will lower cholesterol

According to the European Society of Cardiology and Atherosclerosis Society (European Heart Journal 2016) the following dietary changes are the most likely to lower cholesterol levels:

  • Reduce saturated fat to less than 7% of calories

  • Swap saturated fats for mono and polyunsaturated fats

  • Reduce/limit intake of trans fats as much as possible

  • Increase dietary fibre intake to 25-40g/day

  • Use foods enriched with phytosterols 1-2g/day

  • Reduction in body weight  by at least 10kg

  • Increase physical activity habits

  • Reduce alcohol to 2-3 units/day for men and 1-2 units/day for women

  • Reduce/limit simple sugars (e.g. table and fruit sugars)

  • Reduction in carbohydrates

  • Use Omega-3 supplement

Putting it all into action

There is a lot that can be done to lower cholesterol levels through diet but putting it all together can be tricky. A dietitian can review your blood results and provide an eating/meal plan, recipes and shopping list to suit you. The effects of dietary changes take about 3 months to be seen in your blood test results so it is a good idea to get support early on to incorporate the changes early and keep them going before going back for your next blood test.

To get more help with high cholesterol, book an appointment with one of our dietitians below.

Anna Darcy, Accredited Practising Dietitian

Anna D'Arcy
Dietitian

Anna is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Director of My Nutrition Clinic who has worked for over two decades in the development and delivery of weight management programmes for adults and children. Anna has a Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics along with a Masters in Public Health and has worked in both Australia and London (UK)

Rachel Cosgrove
Dietitian

Rachel has a decade of experience helping clients improve their health through gentle improvements in their diet. Rachel has worked in both community and hospitals on the Gold Coast and has particular interests in diabetes, chronic disease management and health coaching. 

Molly Warner, Gold Coast Dietitian

Molly Warner
Dietitian

Molly is a certified FODMAP dietitian through Monash University and a trained ‘Microba’ gut microbiome practitioner. She is also trained in motivational interviewing and the non-diet approach and she uses these approaches daily in the clinic and in a group program called ‘My Health for Life’.

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