October is National Cholesterol Month. This comes in good timing with the release of new resources to support HEART UK’s Ultimate Cholesterol Lowering Plan© (UCLP©). Our guest blogger, Cordelia Woodward RD, takes us through the plan and its benefits for your clients and patients.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death and is associated with a significant burden of disease worldwide, contributing to 31% of all global deaths.1 High cholesterol is one of the modifiable risk factors for CVD, and yet over half of adults in the UK have high cholesterol,2 defined as having a total serum cholesterol level above 5mmol/L.3
There are several factors that influence cholesterol levels, with diet being one of the most integral. So, what dietary patterns should we be promoting as healthcare professionals? This is where the UCLP© can help.
The UCLP© is a flexible three-step plan that was developed by HEART UK – The Cholesterol Charity – in collaboration with the science and nutrition team at Alpro. It combines scientific evidence with motivational interviewing, designed to help individuals make beneficial changes to their diet that can be maintained in the long term. The three steps are summarised below:
Step 1 - Time to get motivated
The first step involves exploring the reasons behind an individual wanting to lower their cholesterol. This can help with motivation and helps with getting into the right mindset for making lifestyle changes.
Step 2 - Building strong foundations
This step focuses on achieving a heart healthy foundation diet. Small, realistic changes are encouraged such as achieving at least five-a-day of fruit and vegetables, reducing intake of saturated fats and replacing them with heart healthy unsaturated fats, increasing consumption of oily fish, prioritising plant proteins, and incorporating wholegrains into the diet. Within the plan, there is a handy five-minute UCLP© checklist assessment (see Table 1) which can help with identifying which parts of the diet may need improving and which parts are already healthy.
Table 1: The five-minute UCLP© checklist
Step 3 – The four UCLP© foods
After a heart healthy foundation diet has been achieved, the third step involves introducing cholesterol lowering foods. The scientific evidence behind the UCLP© has proven that specific foods can individually lower cholesterol, and that when combined, result in a cumulative effect. The four foods are:
- Soya foods – 15-25g soya protein per day
- Foods fortified with plant stanols or sterols – 1.5-3g per day
- Tree nuts or peanuts – 28-30g (one handful) per day
- Beta-glucans (found in oats and barley) – 3g per day
Individuals can pick and choose which cholesterol lowering foods they would like to include, taking their personal likes and dislikes into account.
The UCLP© can be used alongside lipid-lowering therapy including statins.4
New resources are available to download from the HEART UK website for both the public and healthcare professionals, including:
- The UCLP© Consumer Booklet – this outlines the full step-by-step plan in detail, as well as has useful checklists, simple swap ideas, recipes, and lots of top tips.
- UCLP© At a Glance – a fact sheet providing a quick introduction and overview into the UCLP©. It also includes useful practical advice and swaps.
- UCLP© Recipes – this month, influential dietitians and nutritionists have been giving virtual cooking demonstrations of several UCLP© recipes on social media (including banana bread, blueberry vanilla cake, dauphinoise topped pie and more) which feature foods that are both good for cholesterol lowering and heart health. See the cooking demo schedule
The UCLP© combines the latest scientific evidence into dietary changes to help lower cholesterol with behavioural strategies to encourage long-term change and adherence. It is a highly flexible approach which takes personal preferences into account.
There are many new resources available to download for both the public and health professionals to help support the plan.
HEART UK are encouraging as many people as possible to get involved with National Cholesterol Month. Share what you are doing on social media by tagging @heartukcharity and by using the hashtags #ncmheartuk and #uclp.
Cordelia Woodward, RD, MBDA
Cordelia is a freelance dietitian and is a member of the
British Dietetic Association. She has interests in heart health,
weight loss and diabetes. She also enjoys recipe analysis and writing.
- Alpro Foundation (2020). Plant-based eating and cardiometabolic health. https://www.alprofoundation.org/scientific-updates/health/new-scientific-update/ [accessed October 2020]
- Heart UK (2020) https://www.heartuk.org.uk/ [accessed October 2020]
- National Health Service (2020). Cholesterol levels. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-cholesterol/cholesterol-levels/ [accessed October 2020]
- Heart UK (2020) https://www.heartuk.org.uk/downloads/factsheets/uclp-fact-sheet-oct2019-150dpi.pdf [accessed October 2020]
[DE1]Use UTM hyperlink: https://www.heartuk.org.uk/news/latest/post/136-virtual-cookery-demos-set-to-get-you-loving-heart-healthy-foods-with-alpro?utm_source=NHD%20blog&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=UCLP%20home
[DE2]Insert hyperlink: https://www.heartuk.org.uk/downloads/health-professionals/publications/uclp-consumer-booklet---17oct---lr---100dpi.pdf?utm_source=NHD%20blog&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=UCLP%20consumer%20booklet
[DE3]Insert hyperlink: https://www.heartuk.org.uk/downloads/factsheets/uclp/uclp-at-a-glance.pdf?utm_source=NHD%20blog&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=UCLP%20at%20a%20glance
[DE4]Insert hyperlink: https://www.heartuk.org.uk/tasty-recipes/uclp-recipes?utm_source=NHD%20blog&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=UCLP%20recipes
[DE5]Insert hyperlink: https://www.heartuk.org.uk/news/latest/post/136-virtual-cookery-demos-set-to-get-you-loving-heart-healthy-foods-with-alpro?utm_source=NHD%20blog&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=UCLP%20cooking%20demo%20schedule