By Dr Helen Flaherty, Head of Health Promotion at Heart Research UK
October is National Cholesterol Month.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is needed in the cells of your body. Too much cholesterol in your blood can lead to a build-up in your arteries, which increases your risk of having a heart attack.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that is low in saturated fat and high in fibre is a good way to keep your cholesterol healthy.
Oats contain a type of soluble fibre known as beta-glucan, which can help to lower your cholesterol.
In this healthy heart tip, we provide some ideas for increasing your consumption of oats.
Start your day with a warm bowl of porridge
As the weather gets cooler, you could start your day with a comforting bowl of warm porridge. Rather than adding sugar, honey, jam or syrup to your porridge, you could try adding fruit, such as berries, chopped apple or sliced banana and a sprinkling of chopped nuts, seeds or cinnamon.
Save time in the mornings by preparing an oaty breakfast the night before
If warm porridge is not your thing, you could try starting your day with Bircher. Bircher is made by soaking oatmeal overnight in yogurt and adding fruit, nuts and/or seeds. Why not try out some of these Bircher recipes from BBC Good Food: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/bircher-recipes
Add oatmeal or oatbran to soups and casseroles
You can get more oats in your diet by adding oatmeal or oatbran to soups and casseroles. This will increase the amount of fibre as well as helping to thicken your soups and casseroles.
Swap wheat crackers for oatcakes
If you tend to choose wheat crackers with your cheese, why not switch to oatcakes instead. You could also reduce your saturated fat intake by having a low fat cheese spread on your oatcakes, rather than a hard cheese, such as cheddar. Hard cheeses tend to be high in saturated fat, which can raise your cholesterol.
You can find more healthy tips, recipes and advice at heartresearch.org.uk.