HFG reader Ken Wilson has high cholesterol. We’ve asked HFG dietitian Zoe Wilson (who’s also his daughter) to make over his shopping basket to help his heart health and show you just how easy it is!
When Ken (60) was diagnosed with high cholesterol six months ago, his doctor told him his diet was a major contributing factor and it needed to change, but Ken wasn’t quite sure where to start.
“My biggest problem is time. I run a busy building business, so I tend to grab things on the run,” Ken says.
So, while he and his wife, Trish, did buy healthy foods, these weren’t making up the bulk of his daily diet.
“When I get home late I’m hungry and tired so we go for something quick and easy like a ready-made creamy pasta or curry sauce,” he says.
Snacks like biscuits, chocolate and ice-creams are also a part of Ken’s daily diet.
“I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth,” he confesses. The problem is these types of snacks and instant foods are often high in saturated fat, salt and kilojoules. This not only helps to push cholesterol levels up, but also adds to weight gain - so explains the extra few kilos which had crept on around Ken’s waist.
To help lower his cholesterol and lose a little weight, Zoe suggested some easy swaps for the products he was already buying. For example, swapping a creamy pasta sauce for a reduced-salt tomato-based sauce and ditching curry sauce for a curry paste and evaporated skim milk. (You can see why each of them is a better choice by matching up the coloured stars, opposite).
Ken has been doing well since his trolley makeover.
“I’m surprised at how tasty these swaps are. I’ve got lots of energy, so I’m not snacking on rubbish between meals. I feel great and can’t wait for my next cholesterol check!”
Foods to lower cholesterol
Choose foods with unsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and unsaturated table spreads. Add oily fish at least twice a week for heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
Go easy on foods high in saturated fat like fatty meats, full-fat dairy, sauces, ready-made meals and snacks.
Add raw fruit and veg, lentils, chickpeas and wholegrains like oats. These are high in soluble fibre, which reduces the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs from your food.
Buy in portion-controlled packs to help manage your weight. Losing weight will often help reduce your cholesterol levels, too.
Look after your heart by choosing low-salt or reduced-salt products. Check the label and choose those with less than 120mg sodium per 100g.