In celebration of Dietitians Week 2021, our dietitians have shared some top tips on how to reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your cholesterol.

Three things to increase

1. Increase your intake of oily fish.

Most fish, especially oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna, contain high levels of omega-3, which studies suggest can lower the risk of heart attacks.

It is best to take in omega-3 from food sources, as there isn’t enough evidence that omega-3 -supplements benefit healthy adults and children. 

2. Increase your intake of whole foods.

Wholefoods are a good source of fibre and other nutrients that play an important role in regulating blood pressure and heart health.

Some examples of wholefoods are: wholemeal bread, bran and wholegrain cereals, fruit and vegetables, potatoes with their skins, oats and barley, pulses such as beans, peas and lentils.

3. Increase your intake of unsaturated fats.

Unsaturated fat tends to raise the level of HDL ('good') cholesterol in the blood. HDL cholesterol brings cholesterol to your liver, which sends it out of your body, so you want as much HDL as possible. Examples of unsaturated fats are avocados, nuts, seeds, flaxseed, sunflower, rapeseed, and olive oil.

Three things to reduce

1. Reduce your intake of foods high in saturated fats.

Eating foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL ('bad') cholesterol in your blood increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Examples of foods high in saturated fats are solid fats such as butter, margarine, lard, skin on chicken, cream, cheeses, cakes, and biscuits.

2. Reduce your salt intake.

Too much salt can cause raised blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. It is recommended to reduce your salt intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams a day (about half a teaspoon).

3. Reduce your intake of processed foods.

Processed foods are higher in ingredients such as salt, sugar, and fat to make the flavour more appealing and extend their shelf life. Cooking meals from scratch and bulk freezing your own meals can be an excellent way to reduce your overall intake of processed foods.

Our dietetics service

If you would like some more information on nutrition and cardiovascular health, the dietitians at Cromwell Hospital will be able to support you by providing detailed advice tailored to your needs. We offer both virtual and in-person appointments.

Find out more about our dietetics service >

Written by Rebecca McBride, Specialist Dietitian