The facts and figures around heart health and cholesterol are stark. Coronary heart disease (CHD) remains one of the major killers in the UK and Ireland, with 64,000 UK adults and 4,140 Irish adults dying of CHD every year.
The incidence of CHD saw an impressive decrease in the past decade thanks to better medical intervention and reduction in smoking. However, that has plateaued and incidences are beginning to rise again due to increasing rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes, compounded by the fact that we are living longer.
What can we do about it? Actually, a lot. Around 93 per cent of deaths from CHD have been attributed to risk factors that can be modified – dietary habits and lifestyle. High cholesterol levels are one of the major risk factors to CHD.
This October, HEART UK’s National Cholesterol Month, sees the launch of the updated Ultimate Cholesterol Lowering Plan (UCLP©). It’s a science-based approach to encouraging diet change to include foods proven to improve heart health – and particularly lower cholesterol levels.
Originally developed in 2011 by HEART UK with the science and nutrition team at Alpro, the step-by-step plan is based on both heart health science and behavioural strategies. It can be tailored to meet any individuals’ motivation level and preferences – users are encouraged to build the plan that suits them best, so that change is realistic and easy to maintain. They’re encouraged to incorporate more changes only as and when they feel ready to do so.
It’s made up of three steps:
1. Improving motivation and tackling barriers to change.
2. Establishing a heart healthy foundation diet.
3. Incorporating four UCLP©-specific foods to the foundation diet, proven to impact on cholesterol levels:
– Soya foods
– Oats and barley
– Foods and drinks fortified with plant stanols or sterols
– A daily handful of any unsalted, unsweetened nuts
A new scientific review for healthcare professionals shows how the latest evidence supports the UCLP© guidelines, including the benefits to heart health of:
– Reducing saturated fat and partly replacing it with heart healthy unsaturated fats: for example, replacing high saturated fat meat with plant proteins such as beans, lentils, nuts and soya; or switching from full cream dairy products to lower fat versions or plant-based drinks and yoghurt alternatives.
– Increasing oil rich fish
– Encouraging higher fruit, vegetable and wholegrain intake
The review should give confidence to the healthcare professionals that advising their patients to follow the UCLP© will have positive outcomes; equally the patients will know it’s trusted by experts. On Wednesday 30 November a special UCLP© NutriWebinar will explore the science in detail and help health professionals understand how to apply the plan. It’s free and CPD-accredited; we hope you’ll join us for it. Sign up for the UCLP© NutriWebinar