High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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If you have high cholesterol there are a number of lifestyle changes which may help. High cholesterol is when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. The NHS says that you should ask your GP surgery for a cholesterol test if you have not had a test before and you’re over 40, are overweight, or have high cholesterol or heart problems run in your family.
There are certain foods which can impact your cholesterol levels. Heart UK says that if you have high cholesterol, it’s most important to eat less saturated fat.
It states: “The best way to eat a better diet is to swap your saturated fats with foods that are high in unsaturated fat.”
The organisation also notes that eating high-fibre food can also help to lower your cholesterol, as fibre helps “reduce the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed into the bloodstream from your intestine”.
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that is also sometimes referred to as roughage.
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The Mayo Clinic says that oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol.
It notes: “Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your LDL cholesterol.”
Heart UK says that you should make sure you get at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day as these contain fibre, and you should also eat plenty of other high fibre foods like pulses, oats and seeds.
“Choose more wholegrain foods when you can, such as brown or granary bread over white,” it suggests.
You can find out if you have high cholesterol through a blood test.
If you are over 40, you may have a test during your NHS Health Check. This is a check-up that can help spot early signs of problems like heart disease and diabetes.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by the liver that brings many important health benefits, such as making hormones and building cell membranes.
High cholesterol means you have too much of the “bad” cholesterol. This is known as LDL cholesterol.
“Your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high,” Heart UK adds.
It says that you should aim to do at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, and smoking can raise your cholesterol and make you more likely to have serious problems like heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) says: “If your cholesterol is very high and if lifestyle changes are not enough, your doctor might suggest controlling it with medication.” Statins are the main type of medicine used to reduce cholesterol.
To stave off the risks posed by high cholesterol, it is vital that you intervene early in its development.
If you have been advised to make dietary changes, there are a number of things to consider and several general rules to follow.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada says: “As a rule of thumb, steer clear of highly processed foods, even if they are lower in fat content. Low-fat or diet foods are often loaded with calories, sodium and added sugar.”
It says that it is also a good idea to add more vegetarian options like beans, lentils, tofu and nuts to your weekly meal plans, and “get in the habit of filling half your plate with vegetables and fruit”.
The organisation also explains: “In the last 20 years, the rules on healthy eating have shifted. Super restrictive diets aren’t sustainable or the healthiest choice.”
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