Looking after your heart, your most precious asset, is worth every effort. The good news is it doesn’t have to break the bank. Choosing foods which are particularly good for managing your cholesterol can be affordable, nutritious and delicious. Here we share some tips on how you can eat more of these foods without spending a fortune, with recipes for only a pound a portion.
Savour the seas – ingenious ways with fish
Current dietary recommendations include two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily.
1. Try tinned seafood
Add healthy fats and proteins to your meals with canned salmon, tuna, or sardines. These wallet-friendly alternatives make for delicious, easy and healthy meals with lots of flavour. They often only need a little cooking or no cooking at all. Try these ideas to get started:
- Tuna fish and sweetcorn in a jacket potato.
- Tinned sardines and sliced tomatoes on wholemeal toast.
- Tinned salmon made into fishcakes – drain a tin of salmon and remove any bones. Mix the flaked salmon with mashed potato, chopped onion, crushed garlic, beaten egg and chopped parsley. Take a portion of this mixture, shape it and coat with breadcrumbs. Fry the fishcakes in a small amount of hot vegetable oil. Cook for about three to four minutes on each side or until they are golden brown and crispy. Serve hot with a side salad.
- Top a salad with tinned tuna or salmon or use it for sandwiches instead of meat or cheese.
2. Frozen fish can be cheaper than fresh
You can cook it from frozen or thaw fillets in about 15 to 20 minutes.
How to check if your fish is sustainably sourced
Look out for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) logos on pack.
This recipe will boost your intake of protein, fibre, vitamins B12, C and K whilst keeping saturated fat and salt to a minimum – all for only £1.04 per serving.*
Unveil the magic of fruits and vegetables
Aim to have at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Keep it varied and colourful! Different colours mean different vitamins and minerals. Mix it up with green, orange, red, blue/purple, white and brown.
1. Beyond freshness
Fruit and veg don’t have to be fresh – frozen, tinned and dried also count. Sprinkle dried fruit onto your breakfast cereals – a tablespoon counts as one portion.
2. Tinned temptations
Choose tinned fruit in natural juice or water rather than syrup. Tinned fruit can be used at any mealtime or as a snack. It’s convenient – the fruit is washed, chopped and ready to eat – meaning no mess! Tinned tomatoes are a surprising addition to your vegetable lineup. Around three tablespoons count as one portion.
3. Shop seasonal
When choosing fresh fruit and vegetables, choose seasonal as they are likely to be cheaper. A portion is the amount you can hold in one hand.
4. Frozen fuel
When the seasons shift, opt for frozen produce – they're as nutritious and effortless as their fresh counterparts. Around three to four tablespoons is a portion.
5. Celebrate wonky fruit and vegetables
More and more supermarkets are stocking these and are cheaper than their ‘perfect’ relatives.
6. The magic of mushrooms
Add mushrooms to recipes for a tantalizing umami lift, making them creative meat replacements.
This recipe uses mainly frozen vegetables. It’s a great way to boost your protein and fibre intake whilst being low in saturated fat and salt and costs only £1.10 per serving.*
Pulses: affordability meets nutrient richness
Pulses such as beans, peas and lentils pack a powerful nutritional punch. They’re rich in protein and fibre and low in saturated fat, as well as cheap to buy. They’re a great addition to your recipes without straining your finances.
1. Tinned treasures
Embrace tinned beans and lentils – they're ready to transform your dishes with minimal effort.
2. A wholesome swap
Replace at least 50% of meat with lentils or beans in stews, curries, and pasta sauces.
3. Try going meatless
Twice-weekly meat-free journeys let you explore the vibrant world of pulses.
4. Make your own
Homemade hummus using tinned chickpeas, or any other bean of your choice, only takes a couple of minutes to make if you have a food processor, and it’s cheaper than shop-bought. Combine a 400g can of beans (drained, but reserve one1-two tablespoons of the liquid) with one tablespoon of tahini paste or peanut butter, the juice of one lemon, one to two crushed garlic cloves, three tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of the reserved liquid or water – just whizz it all up in a processor. Experiment with different beans or adding herbs or sundried tomatoes.
5. Waste not, want not
Did you know the tinned chickpea liquid (aquafaba) can be used as a vegan alternative to egg whites in recipes.
6. Transforming ordinary to extraordinary
- Add cannellini beans, butter beans, or green or brown lentils to a salad for lunch.
- Reimagine mashed potatoes with a twist – blend in butter beans or any other tinned beans for an extra layer of creaminess and flavour.
7. Crunchy chickpea delight
Roasted chickpeas emerge as a delicious high-protein snack. Simply mix a drained tin of chickpeas (patted dry with a kitchen towel) with a teaspoon of oil, smoked paprika, cumin and coriander. Place onto a lined baking tray and bake in an oven for around 30 minutes. Move them around the tray halfway through so they dry out evenly and are crunchy. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container.
8. Baked bean brilliance
Revel in a UK favourite – baked beans on toast. Lift this classic light meal by pairing it with mushrooms or a salad.
This recipe is low in saturated fat, rich in protein and fibre and each serving provides three of your five-a-day… all for just £1.06 per serving.*
Oats: A fibre champion
Oats contain a specific cholesterol-lowering fibre called beta-glucan. Eating 3g of beta glucan a day as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle can help to lower cholesterol.
1. Versatility redefined
Beyond porridge, oats can transform into crumbles, coatings and even savoury coatings.
2. Smoothie enrichment
Adding rolled oats to your favourite smoothie recipe will not only make your blended fruit and milk into a more filling meal, it works as a thickener and adds a slightly nutty flavour.
3. Overnight marvels
If you’re short of time in the morning, why not make overnight oats the night before? Simply combine oats with seeds, chopped up apple or frozen berries, and some fat free yogurt or plant-based alternative. Place it in an airtight container and put it in the fridge… simple as that. The next morning, give it a quick stir and sprinkle with nuts.
4. Nutritional upgrade
Oat bran can be used in baking to give recipes a fibre boost, or add oats to stews and soups to thicken and boost the fibre content.
Go nutty for nuts
Cutting down on saturated fat and including more healthy unsaturated fats is a key part of keeping your cholesterol in check. Harness the power of nuts – they’re a great source of these healthy fats and they’re packed with fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals too.
1. Nutty symphony
Enjoy as a savoury snack or as a mix with dried fruits for a touch of sweetness. A small handful is a portion.
2. Topping triumph
Sprinkle nuts onto cereals and into yogurt, salads, stir fries and pastas – adding a touch of indulgence and nourishment.
3. Boosting Omega 3
Walnuts are a good source of the plant omega 3 fat, Alpha Linolenic Acid. Did you know ALA can help to maintain normal blood cholesterol levels1?
Worried about too many calories?
No need! Scientific evidence shows that people who eat nuts regularly don’t weigh more than people who don’t eat nuts, and they can help keep you fuller for longer2.
This is a low salt and saturated fat soup providing you with protein. Each serving will provide you with 28% of your daily recommended intake for fibre – all at only 72p per serving.*
*Costs are based on the standard retail price for each ingredient as an average across the four main UK supermarkets: Tesco’s, Asda’s, Sainsbury’s & Morrisons. Online supermarket prices were collected between the 10th and 22nd of August 2023.
1. ALA contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/great-britain-nutrition-and-health-claims-nhc-register 2. Nuts and Cardio-Metabolic Disease: A Review of Meta-Analyses