High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Around 39 percent of people in the UK are estimated to have high or borderline high levels of cholesterol. Cholesterol levels can naturally increase with age, however certain lifestyle choices can also add to a rise.
Cholesterol is a form of fat, known as lipid, which is found in the body.
Not all cholesterol is bad, as it is used by the body to help with a number of vital functions, including creating cell membrane structure and aiding the production of bile acids which can help with digestion.
There are two main types of cholesterol; high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
People often refer to these types of cholesterol as good and bad respectively.
Too much LDL cholesterol can increase the risk of a number of potentially fatal illnesses, including heart disease and stroke.
Often, medication is needed to help reduce high levels of cholesterol.
However, there are some lifestyle changes that can also help to reduce cholesterol levels.
According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, changes to your diet can be a key factor.
The charity explains: “Healthy eating can make a huge difference to your cholesterol levels and your heart health, whether your cholesterol has crept up over the years or you have a genetic condition.
“It will improve your health in other ways too, helping to lower your blood pressure, prevent diabetes and maintain a healthy weight.”
Though there are many ways you can change your diet, shaking up the way you snack can help to reduce cholesterol levels as part of an all-around healthy diet.
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Here are five easy but healthy snack swaps you can make:
Swap crisps for unsalted plain popcorn
Crisps are notoriously high in salt and often fried in oil.
One healthy alternative to crisps is unsalted, plain popcorn.
However, it is important to exercise portion control when making this swap and ensure you only have one small bag of popcorn.
For people who are seeking a little more flavour, Heart UK recommends trying to make your own at home and adding in a spicy seasoning, sprinkle of cinnamon or a low-calorie powdered sweetener.
Swap biscuits for two oatcakes or rice cakes
When relaxing in front of the TV, it can be easy to reach for the biscuit tin, but opting for an oatcake or rice cake is a heart-healthy alternative.
Typically, oatcakes have around 42 calories per serving and contain just 2.3 grams of fat.
Rice cakes are even lower in fat and calories.
Per serving, each unsalted rice cake contains around 35 calories and between zero and one gram of fat.
By compassion, a chocolate digestive contains around 84 calories and 4.1 grams of fat.
Swap a doughnut for a plain or fruit scone
Doughnuts and pastries may be a sweet treat to enjoy with a cup of tea, but they can carry a troublesome amount of fat, sugar and salt which can cause damage if eaten too frequently.
For those who are craving a pastry, Heart UK’s website recommended a plain or fruit scone.
The charity also says, in moderation, it is okay to thinly top your scone with a low fat spread.
Swap full-fat yoghurt for zero percent Greek yoghurt
Yoghurt is a healthy addition to a well-balanced diet, but if it is a frequent indulgence, it is important you understand the contents of your chosen brand.
Instead of going for a sweet yoghurt, often high in sugar, Heart UK’s website recommended opting for zero percent fat Greek yoghurt.
This low-fat option not only works well as a sweet treat with fruit, it can also be used as an alternative to sour cream.
Swap sweets for juicy peach slices and honey
Gummy sweets can give us a sugar hit, especially after a busy day working, but there are healthier ways to enjoy sugar.
For those looking for something sweet to nibble on, Heart UK’s website suggests juicy peach slices, served with a teaspoon of honey and sunflower seeds.
Peach slices can be cut from a fresh peach, or enjoyed from a tin – though be sure to opt for slices stored in juice, rather than syrup.
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