Preventing high cholesterol

You canlower your cholesterol by eating a healthy, balanced diet that's low in saturated fat, exercising regularly , not smoking and cutting down on alcohol.


If you have an unhealthy diet that's high in fat, fatty plaques are much more likely to build up in your arteries. This is because fatty foods contain cholesterol.

There are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. You should avoid foods containing saturated fats, as they will increase the levels of "bad cholesterol"(low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) in your blood.

Foods high in saturated fat include:

  • meat pies
  • sausages and fatty cuts of meat
  • butter
  • ghee a type of butter often used in Indian cooking
  • lard
  • cream
  • hard cheese
  • cakes and biscuits
  • food that contains coconut or palm oil

However, it's not healthy to completely cut out all types of fat from your diet. It's important to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats they've been shown to increase levels of "good cholesterol" (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) and reduce any blockage in your arteries.

Foods that are high in unsaturated fat include:

  • oily fishsuch as mackerel, salmon and tuna
  • avocados
  • nuts and seeds
  • sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil

Read the facts about fat and how to eat less saturated fat for more information.

A low-fat diet including lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables has also been shown to help lower cholesterol.

Fruit and vegetablesare full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, and help keep your body in good condition. Aim to eat five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables every day .

This meanssmoking is a major risk factor for both Myocardial infarction and strokes .

If you decide to stop smoking,your GP can refer you to an NHS Stop Smoking Service , which will provide you with dedicated help and advice about the best ways to give up smoking.

You can also call the NHS Stop Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044 (England only). The specially trained helpline staff can offer you free expert advice and encouragement.

If you're committed to giving up smoking but don't want to be referred to a stop smoking service, your GP should be able to prescribe medical treatment to help with any withdrawal symptoms you may experience after giving up.

Walking , swimming and cycling are good examples of this type of exercise.

and the physical activityguidelinesfor older adults (aged 65 and over) .

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016