High cholesterol & fat

Fat and Cholesterol

There are two main types of fat – saturated and unsaturated. Eating foods that are high in saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels in the blood. Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat. Foods high in saturated fat include:

  • meat pies
  • sausages and fatty cuts of meat
  • butter, ghee, lard, cream
  • hard cheese
  • cakes and biscuits
  • foods containing coconut or palm oil

Improving your diet

Eating foods that contain unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat can actually help reduce cholesterol levels. Try to replace foods containing saturated fats with foods that are high in unsaturated fats, such as:

  • oily fish (such as mackerel and salmon)
  • nuts (such as almonds and cashews)
  • seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin)
  • vegetable oils and spreads (such as sunflower, olive, corn, walnut and rapeseed oils)

Trans fats can also raise cholesterol levels. Trans fats can be found naturally at low levels in some foods, such as those from animals, including meat and dairy products. Artificial trans fats can be found in hydrogenated fat, so some processed foods such as biscuits and cakes will contain trans fats. As part of a healthy diet, try to cut down on foods containing trans fats or saturated fats and replace them with foods containing unsaturated fats.

Cooking techniques

You should also reduce the total amount of fat in your diet. Try microwaving, steaming, poaching, boiling or grilling instead of roasting or frying. Choose lean cuts of meat and go for low-fat varieties of dairy products and spreads, or eat just a small amount of full-fat varieties

Cholesterol-lowering products

There's evidence that foods containing certain added ingredients, such as plant sterols and stanols, can reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood.Sterols and stanols can be found in specially developed products, such as some spreads and yoghurts. These foods are aimed at people who need to lower their cholesterol levels. People who don't have high cholesterol shouldn't eat these products regularly, particularly children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. If your doctor has told you that you have high cholesterol, you can lower it by changing your diet without having to eat special products. If you do eat foods that are designed to lower cholesterol, read the label carefully to avoid eating too much.