Cholesterol Reducing – Fact Sheet



What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is the main fatty substance in blood. It has important functions in transferring fats round the body and in ensuring the health of many organs and cells.

What does a high level of Cholesterol mean?

Too much cholesterol in the blood causes a fatty lining to form in the blood vessels and can lead eventually to clogging of the vessels supplying the heart muscle, which can cause angina or, sometimes, a heart attack or stroke.

So, a higher amount of cholesterol in the blood means a greater risk of developing high blood pressure.

What can be done about this?

Cutting down the amount of fat which you eat, will help to lower the level of cholesterol in your blood.

Fat is found in the food we eat in two forms:

  • “Visible fat”, like butter, margarine, oil, fat on meat, fries.
  • “Hidden fat”, in foods like milk, cheese, egg yolk, chocolate.

Here are some general guidelines to follow:

Many of us add unnecessary fat to a meal because of the way we cook.  Suitable methods of cooking include – boiling, baking, stewing, or steaming (but don’t add extra fat).

  1. DO NOT FRY, GRILL instead.
    If necessary, add a little corn oil or sunflower-seed oil in place of lard, dripping or blended vegetable oil. Non-stick pots and pans are easier if you are only using a little oil.
    boil or bake in these skins. Eat homemade chips cooked in corn oil, occasionally as a treat. Drain them well.
    Chicken and fish. Always trim fat off meat.
    Meat products like – pies, bridies, sausages, black pudding, haggis, pate and salami. These contain large amounts of saturated fats, the main fats that need to be reduced.
  5. MILK
    Use semi-skimmed milk or, better still, skimmed milk, instead of ordinary full-cream milk (this does not apply to children under the age of 5). Look for skimmed milk or skimmed milk with added vitamins A and D. Try low fat yoghurts.
  6. EGGS
    Eat no more than two or three eggs a week. We eat “hidden eggs” in various products and recipes. Yolks contain fat and cholesterol.
    If you eat a lot of cheese, try to limit this to small quantities, twice a week. Try the types which have less fat than cheddar, like Edam, Camembert or “slimmers” cheeses, which have half the fat of ordinary cheese. Cottage cheese has very little fat.
    Butter and margarine. Use a thin spread only. Try a low fat spread or a soft margarine. “High in polyunsaturates”. Use sparingly.
    Cream, ice cream, salad cream, mayonnaise, crisps, nuts, chocolate, toffee, fudge, artificial cream, pastry, cakes, lemon curd, mincemeat, Advocaat, cream liqueurs.
    • Eat brown/wholemeal bread. It’s a good source of protein, fibre and energy. Not too much though!
    • Don’t increase sugar and sugary foods.
    • Have plenty of fruit and vegetables. They provide essential vitamins, minerals and fibre.
    • Eat less salt.
    • Alcohol in true moderation.
    Try to work out an eating pattern which you will be able to keep to in the long-term. You’re new way of eating need not be expensive  – here are some economical ideas!

Economical ideas for meals & snacks

  1. FISH
    • Grill and serve with peas or baked beans.
    • Boiled chicken gives stock for soup and gravy. Remember to allow liquids to cool and skim off solidified fat. To make gravy, flavour the stock with different vegetables and herbs. Thicken with corn flour.
    • Frozen turkey fillets are good value. There is no waste and they can be cooked and flavoured with vegetables, herbs or curry powder.
    • Remove the skin of chicken and turkey before eating. This contains fat.
    • Try lentils in a curry, or casseroles. Use only a small amount of oil in cooking. This makes a tasty, economical dish.
    Give extra flavour by adding:

    • Chopped chives and onions
    • Apple or pineapple
    • A pinch of curry powder and some sultanas
    • Chopped celery
    • Serve with salad or something with s strong taste, like boiled beetroot.
  5. MINCE
    • Use less. Try swapping for Turkey or Pork mince -much less fat – use chicken stock cube with it instead of beef, very tasty.
    • Skim off fat after cooking and bulk out the dish by adding lentils and/or lots of vegetables.
    • Try serving with wholemeal spaghetti, boiled brown rice, or jacket potatoes, for extra fibre.
  6. STEW
    • Use a leaner cut of stewing beef, but by less. Add butter beans or kidney beans to make the dish go further (remember to soak dried beans overnight and boil in the stew for at least ten minutes, simmer till tender, approximately 1-11/2 hours).
    • Buy a small amount of lean beef ham per person and make beef olives. Use a finely chopped cabbage, onion, carrot and seasoning stuffing.
    • Small, thick slices of lean cooked pork shoulder can be lightly grilled with pineapple or tomato.
    It is best to use wholemeal bread. Spread sparingly with suitable margarine, low fat spread or butter. Try these fillings for your sandwiches:

    • Marmite or Bovril
    • Tuna (tinned in brine or spring water, not oil)
    • Lean turkey or chicken roll.
    • Lean pork shoulder, ham or beef
    • Bananas or Tomatoes
    • Philadelphia cheese – extra lite
    • Any of the salad vegetables
    • Jam, honey or marmalade (but not if you’re trying to lose weight or diabetic).
  8. SOUPS
    Good old-fashioned thick lentil, split pea or green pea soup, eaten with a slice or two of wholemeal bread, makes a nutritious snack. Stock cubes save time in the making.
    If you are not overweight or Diabetic, here are some ideas for sweets and desserts which are lower in fat. But remember, as part of a healthy diet, take sweet foods in moderation only. Eat more fresh fruit instead.

    • SWEETS
      Pastilles, gums, jellies, plain boilings, peppermints, clear mints, marshmallows, crystallised fruits, Turkish delight, (not chocolate coated), liquorice allsorts, sherbet, chewing gum, fruit juices.
      Fruit jelly, meringue (no cream), tinned fruit, milk pudding made with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk (e.g. custard, rice or semolina), baked bananas with lemon juice, low fat yoghurt, plain ice lollies, baked apple with dried fruit stuffing, apple or rhubarb crumble with crushed breakfast cereal topping, baked pear with cinnamon.

Sample day’s menu

  • Fruit juice (very small glass – 100mls only)
  • Breakfast cereal (preferably high fibre) Porridge or weetabix
  • Skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
  • Or Toast (preferably wholemeal)
  • Tea or coffee (sweetener not sugar)
  • Soup (e.g. lentil or  pea and ham)
  • Sandwich with low fat filling (e.g. cottage cheese, lean meat or fish)
  • Low fat yoghurt or fresh fruit
  • Soup 
  • Lean meat, fish or chicken
  • Large portion of vegetables
  • Jacket potato, boiled potatoes, noodles, rice, pasta in small quantities
  • Low fat dessert or fresh fruit
  • Crackers (low calorie melba toasts)with low fat spread and pickles

Use skimmed milk or semi-skimmed milk in tea or coffee. Use a scraping only of butter or margarine on bread. Plain biscuits in moderation between meals, but try to eat more fresh fruit instead or other snacks.

  • Remember that buying less fatty foods, cakes, biscuits and margarine will help to balance buying more low fat foods like cereals, fruit and vegetables.
  • Relax your diet occasionally, but don’t go overboard.
  • If you are overweight, reduce your fat intake and avoid sugar, sweet foods and alcohol until you lose the excess.
  • If you are overweight or simply aiming to keep your weight steady, eat extra bread and other cereal foods, potatoes and plenty of fruit and vegetables. This is healthy way to get calories.
Foods Recommended Foods not Recommended
  • Porridge & breakfast cereal of all kinds
  • Bread & rolls – all kinds (Especially wholemeal)
  • Small amount of spreading fat, butter or margarine or low fat spread
  • Potatoes – boiled or baked
  • Fruit & vegetables – all kinds 
  • Boiled rice, spaghetti , macaroni, noodles, baked beans or spaghetti in tomato sauce
  • Fish- all kinds (drain fat from tinned varieties)
  • Grilled fish fingers
  • Chicken
  • Low fat salad dressings
  • Skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
  • Cottage cheese, Edam and low fat cheeses in moderation
  • Low fat yoghurt
  • Egg white – limit yolks to 3/week
  • Jelly, milk puddings made with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
  • Plain or wholemeal scones, plain
  • Biscuits, crispbread, fatless sponge
  • Sugar, jam, marmalade, honey, Sweets, pastilles, gums
  • Broth or vegetable soup
  • Tea, coffee, marmite, bovril, stock cubes, fruit juice and fruit squash
  • Chips, Roast potatoes
  • Crisps
  • Ready-made dishes in meat or cheese sauce
  • Meat pies, sausages, bridies, black pudding, haggis, pate, salami
  • Fried meat, fish or chicken
  • Mayonnaise, salad cream
  • Whole milk, cream, ice cream
  • Artificial cream
  • “Ordinary” cheese
  • Cakes, pastries, cream and chocolate
  • Chocolate, toffee, fudge
  • Lemon curd
  • Cream soup