WE all want to be in the best health possible and lowering your cholesterol could contribute to that.
High cholesterol is mainly caused by eating fatty foods and not exercising enough.
The NHS says that it’s important to keep your cholesterol in check because high levels increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Around one in five Brits have been told they have high cholesterol but don’t know what to do about it, research from Flora ProActiv states.
Around a third of the population have never had a cholesterol test with 41 per cent assuming they don’t need one.
Raised cholesterol is linked closely to a diet high in saturated fats.
To have a balanced diet you have to include all food groups, including fats, but there are ways to easily lower your fat intake and it’s all to do with the way you cook your food.
Instead of roasting or frying your food there are simple and often quicker ways to cook that could help.
The NHS says you could switch the following methods:
You can also chose lean cuts of meat rather that the fatty bits, which will also help.
Opting for lower-fat varieties of dairy products and spreads will also help, you could also try and cut down on the full-fat variety of products you consume.
Aisling Moran, nutritional scientist at Thriva said eating foods high in soluble fibre will also help lower your cholesterol levels.
She explained: “Foods like oats, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, and apples contain soluble fibre. This type of fibre helps to “mop-up” LDL cholesterol — helping lower your levels.”
LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) makes up most of your body’s cholesterol and high levels of this raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
The way you can measure blood cholesterol levels is using the unit millimoles per litre of blood (mmol/L).
Your levels of cholesterol should be:
- 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults
- 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk
When it comes to measuring LDLs, the levels should be:
- 3mmol/L or less for healthy adults
- 2mmol/L or less for those at high risk
Aisling also added that a Mediterranean style diet could be key to helping lower your cholesterol.
She added: “This describes the traditional diet of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. While this type of diet varies by country, it’s typically high in fruit, vegetables, legumes (like chickpeas), beans, nuts, whole grains, and fish.
“It’s also high in unsaturated fats, like olive oil. And usually includes low amounts of meat, dairy, and alcohol.”
What is normal cholesterol?
Cholesterol is the fatty substance that is carried in the blood by proteins.
It’s made by the liver but found in certain foods, and high levels can increase your risk of serious health problems.
When cholesterol combines with protein to be carried in the blood, it is known as a lipoprotein.
There are two types of lipoprotein; high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
igh levels of cholesterol can build up in the artery walls and reduce blood flow to the heart.
This increases the risk of a clot forming around the body and also coronary heart disease occurring.
According to the NHS website, high levels can lead to:
- narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
- heart attack
- transient ischaemic attack (TIA) – often known as a “mini stroke”
- peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
While what you eat plays a big part in your cholesterol, a lack of exercise can also contribute.
Aisling said doing regular exercise could also help.
She explained: “Exercise helps to move LDL cholesterol to your liver, where it’s removed from your body.
“National guidelines recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week.”
KNOW THE SIGNS
It was recently revealed that your eyes could also be an indicator of high cholesterol.
Giles Edmonds, Specsavers clinical services director said
that if you are experiencing persistent floaters then this could be a sign of high cholesterol.
He explained: “Floaters are spots in your vision and usually look like black or grey specs or cobwebs that drift about when you move your eyes.”
Another sign of high cholesterol that can be detected in the eyes is a blue ring.
This ring will usually appear around the iris as you age.
“This is caused by cholesterol deposits in the eye. They are more common in those aged 60 and above and aren’t usually something to worry about.
“However, if these develop in the under 40s, there may be a greater risk of developing heart disease”, he said.
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