With the rise in processed and synthetic foods, doctors are warning that cholesterol levels are increasing.

But how can you hope to regulate yours and maintain a healthy diet?

There are many foods great at reducing cholesterol and helping regulate it as part of a balanced diet.

Olive oil and olive products are some of the best ingredients you can use to achieve this, as they are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. Foods with high monounsaturated fatty acids help to limit ’bad’ low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and increase so-called ’good’ cholesterol.

One or two tablespoons of olive oil used in cooking or drizzled over salad should suffice and olive spread makes a healthy and tasty alternative to margarine.

Legumes including dry, cooked or canned beans, peas, lentils and soya products all have a high dietary fibre content, as well as being rich in protective nutrients, including minerals, B vitamins and phytonutrients.

With such a high concentration of nutrients they protect the heart and the dietary fibre content helps to lower cholesterol and energy intake.

Naturally low fat foods such as legumes also don’t contain any cholesterol themselves, boasting low glycaemic indexes, promising long-lasting energy in return.

Ideally these foods should be eaten every day, providing protein and a vital set of vitamins and minerals.

Fat-free dairy products are a brilliant option for dairy fans, but with the cholesterol removed.

Using fat-free milk, yoghurt and cottage cheese ensures your body received plenty of calcium, which helps keep the heart functioning and assists in preventing bone-related diseases, such as osteoporosis.

Meanwhile, antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin C or beta-carotene, such as citrus and berry fruits, the cabbage family and peppers are all known to help lower cholesterol and protect the heart.

As well as five portions of these day why not also try to add in garlic and onions, essential ingredients in a Mediterranean diet - containing food groups known to be heart-healthy?

Other useful ingredients include wholegrains, omega-3 rich fish, venison and ostrich, all of which are identified as being low-fat and low-cholesterol, although some of these foods may be easier to incorporate than others!

Posted by Matilda Jones