High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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High cholesterol or borderline high levels of LDL cholesterol impact around 39 percent of adults in the UK. While high cholesterol may require medical intervention, such as medication, there are also some lifestyle changes people can make to help lower their cholesterol levels.
According to the NHS, these include weight loss, “eating healthily and getting more exercise”.
However, one part of a healthy diet can mean cutting down on some weekly treats.
While a couple of glasses of wine or a few pints may be something many Britons look forward to at the weekend or on an evening, too much alcohol could actually hinder your cholesterol levels.
This is because alcohol actually raises your cholesterol levels.
Heart UK explains: “When you drink alcohol, it’s broken down and rebuilt into triglycerides and cholesterol in the liver.
“So, drinking alcohol raises the triglycerides and cholesterol in your blood.”
In the UK, the average alcohol consumption per adult is about 9.7 litres of pure alcohol per year – or about 18 units a week, according to charity Alcohol Change.
The recommended weekly alcohol consumption in the UK is no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across three days or more.
The NHS explains: “That’s around six medium (175ml) glasses of wine or six pints of 4 percent beer.
“There’s no completely safe level of drinking, but sticking within these guidelines lowers your risk of harming your health.”
However, if you are working to lower your cholesterol, even this could be too much alcohol.
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How much alcohol can you drink if you are trying to reduce cholesterol levels?
Heart UK state: “Cutting down on alcohol can help you to lower your cholesterol levels.”
Reducing or eliminating your alcohol consumption can also “improve heart health and help to prevent heart disease in other ways too, by helping to look after your liver, your blood pressure, your weight and your waistline”.
Different forms of alcohol, such as wine, beer or liquor, can have different effects on your cholesterol levels.
However, it is the amount of alcohol you consume that is most important.
Generally, if you have high cholesterol, Heart UK say that it should be “ok” to drink within the NHS’ recommended weekly allowance.
The experts advise having some alcohol-free days and spreading your drinks out over the week, rather than binge drinking.
However, they note that in some cases people may be advised not to drink at all.
According to Heart UK: “There are some health problems and treatments which can mean it’s safer to avoid alcohol altogether.
“Speak to your doctor or nurse about what’s safe for you.”
How to cut down on alcohol intake
For many people, alcohol is ingrained into their social lives, and it can be hard to find ways to cut down.
Some simple ways to cut down on alcohol include:
- Swapping to alcoholic beverages with a lower percentage
- Only drinking while having a meal
- Trying to make your drinks last or sipping them more slowly
- Limiting yourself to a certain amount or on certain days of the week
- Avoid large glasses
- Use a measure so you know exactly how much you are consuming
Some people find cutting down on alcohol to be difficult and they may struggle to reduce or stop their intake.
In this case, it is important you speak to your GP, a nurse or an alcohol dependency charity to find out ways in which they can offer guidance and support.
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