High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
It is thought around half of all adults in the UK are living with high cholesterol, putting them at risk for a number of serious health problems.
If you have high cholesterol it means you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood.
While this might not cause issues to begin with, over time it can build up in your blood vessels leading to blockages.
This can result in emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes.
Diet is a leading factor in whether your cholesterol is too high or not.
For example, eating too much saturated fat is known to significantly increase your cholesterol.
However, there are foods that can do the opposite.
According to Jo Hilditch from the Blackcurrant Foundation, blackcurrants have cholesterol-lowering properties.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “An easy way to introduce heart-healthy foods into your diet is with a handful of blackcurrants; this readily available British berry is in season from July to August and could play a vital role in combating high cholesterol, and by extension, cardiovascular disease.”
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What’s the science behind it?
“It’s all about the flavonoids, naturally occurring compounds known for their powerful health benefits,” Ms Hilditch explained.
“These compounds have been shown to improve blood vessel function and reduce blood stickiness, which lessens the risk of small, harmful blood clot formation.
“Scientific research indicates that flavonoids might also inhibit the formation of bad cholesterol (otherwise known as oxidised low-density lipoprotein), which, if left unchecked, can cling to blood vessel walls, leading to artery narrowing and potential cardiovascular disease.
“Laboratory tests have given some credence to these effects, with flavonoids showing potential to reduce the rate at which bad cholesterol forms.
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“In addition, experiments have suggested that blackcurrant juice can positively impact blood vessel function.
“One study even demonstrated improved blood flow in the forearm and reduced shoulder muscle stiffness following the consumption of blackcurrant anthocyanins.”
What does research say?
A study, published in Molecules journal in 2021, trialled the use of blackcurrant extract on 12 healthy young women.
It found that very-low-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein (both types of “bad” cholesterol) were lowered after 29 days of taking the extract daily.
The study said: “In this study, we examined the effects of blackcurrant extract (BCE) on serum lipid levels in healthy young women as test subjects.
“There was no effect after four days of BCE intake, but the total serum cholesterol level was lowered after 29 days of intake.
“In addition, the very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol level was significantly lowered, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol also showed a decreasing trend.”
It added that blackcurrant extract “inhibits the absorption of cholesterol”.
If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels you should speak to your GP.
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