High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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If you have been advised to make dietary changes, there are a number of things to consider. Changing what you eat, being more active, and stopping smoking can help get your cholesterol back to a healthy level. To help lower your cholesterol you don’t need to avoid fats altogether, but you should cut down on foods high in saturated fat and replace them with food high in unsaturated.
Better Health Channel says as well as sticking to a varied and healthy diet, there are other tips that can help you manage your cholesterol.
It states: “Limit takeaway foods to once a week (such as pastries, pies, pizza, hot chips, fried fish, hamburgers and creamy pasta dishes).”
Indeed, the NHS says: “To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat.
“You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat.”
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High cholesterol does not tend to cause symptoms, so you can only find out if you have it from a blood test.
The British Dietetic Association says: “Compare labels and choose foods with green or amber labels for ‘saturates’.”
Foods are high, red, in saturated fat if they contain more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g. Foods containing 1.5g or less per 100g are low, green, in saturated fat.
Nonetheless, the site notes: “Some healthy foods that are high in fat like oily fish, nuts and oils, may be red for saturated fat. This is okay, as they contain more of the healthy unsaturated fat.”
The Mayo Clinic adds that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your triglycerides, a type of fat found in blood, “as well as reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots”.
It says that in people who have already had heart attacks, omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of sudden death.
Eating plenty of fibre also helps lower your risk of heart disease and some high fibre foods can help lower your cholesterol.
To make sure you get enough fibre, it says you should aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, switch to whole grain varieties of bread, cereals, pasta and rice, and choose other high fibre foods such as pulses.
You might need medicine to lower your cholesterol if your cholesterol level has not gone down after changing your diet and lifestyle.
You may also need medicine if you’re at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, according to the NHS.
Statins are the most common medicine for high cholesterol, according to the health service. They work by reducing the amount of cholesterol your body makes.
The NHS says: “Like all medicines, statins can cause side effects. But most people tolerate them well and do not have any problems.”
Heart UK says: “Your HDL cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol) helps clear the cholesterol out of your arteries, while your LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol) can clog them up.”
It adds that your HDL cholesterol should ideally be high, around 1.4mmol/L.
It notes that women naturally have higher HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels than men due to differences in the genes.
“Women should aim for an HDL cholesterol level above 1.2mmol/L while men should aim for above 1mmol/L,” it states.
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