High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by your liver that’s needed to build healthy cells. However, high cholesterol means you have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood. This is the harmful type that can clog up your arteries, thereby hiking your risk of heart disease.
Another complication of consistently high cholesterol levels is peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
PAD is a common condition where a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood supply to leg muscles.
When this happens, you may “develop a painful ache” in the legs when you walk, warns the NHS.
This painful ache “usually disappears after a few minutes’ rest”, notes the health body.
“The pain can range from mild to severe, and usually goes away after a few minutes when you rest your legs.”
How to respond
In more cases than not, you will not experience any symptoms of high cholesterol. You can only find out if you have it from a blood test.
According to the NHS, your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high.
“This may be because of your age, weight or another condition you have (like high blood pressure or diabetes).”
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How to lower high cholesterol levels
If you’re formally diagnosed with high cholesterol, you’ll usually be advised to make lifestyle changes to lower high levels.
One of the first-line defences against high cholesterol is to reduce your saturated fat intake.
“Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products, raise your total cholesterol,” warns the Mayo Clinic.
“Decreasing your consumption of saturated fats can reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the ‘bad’ cholesterol.”
Unsaturated fats are found in plant foods and oily fish, and they are usually liquid at room temperature.
- Oils from vegetables, nuts and seeds, such as sunflower, safflower, rapeseed, olive, peanut, Walnut and corn oil
- Spreads based on these oils
- Nuts and seeds
- Oily fish such as herring, pilchards, mackerel, salmon and trout.
According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, one type of unsaturated fat which are particularly good for you are omega 3 fats.
These are the type found in oily fish. They’re also found in flaxseed, linseed and hemp and foods that have been fortified with omega 3s.
Being active is also a major part of looking after your cholesterol levels and keeping your heart healthy.
According to Heart UK, exercise raises your HDL cholesterol levels – the good cholesterol which removes fat from your arteries.
Adults are advised to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of intense activity every week.
“If you can do more, that’s even better,” notes Heart UK.
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