Five ways to reduce risk of high cholesterol – which has no visible symptoms

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Over a third of adults are unaware that high cholesterol carries no visible symptoms, according to research commissioned by Benecol.

High cholesterol affects six in 10 adults in the UK, and increases the risk of coronary heart disease – which is the leading cause of death in the world.

Having elevated levels of cholesterol, the fatty substance found in your blood, can also lead to other diseases of the heart and blood vessels.

The problem is that it typically doesn’t carry any outwardly visible symptoms.

The only way to know if you have it is to get a cholesterol test from a GP or pharmacy.

One of the leading causes of high cholesterol is eating a diet high in saturated fat – such as full fat dairy and fatty and processed meat.

Registered Dietitian Helen Bond said: “This new study reveals a serious lack of understanding around cholesterol, highlighting that there are a lot of myths that need dispelling around the subject – primarily that people mistakenly believe that it commonly carries physical symptoms, when in actual fact high cholesterol is not typically a visible ‘thing’.”

But there are several things you can do to stay on top of your cholesterol levels.

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Helen said: “Changing your eating habits is one of the most effective ways of improving your cholesterol levels, and people need to be aware that with just a few simple switches to your everyday eating and lifestyle habits, you can move cholesterol levels in the right direction.

“To help achieve and maintain a healthy cholesterol level, try replacing the saturated fats in your diet – such as butter, full fat milk and fatty meats – with healthier, unsaturated fats – such as vegetable oils, olive oil, skimmed milk or oily fish.

“You can also boost your intake of fibre by making sure that you eat your 5-A-Day, choose wholegrains and oat products where possible and try snacking on nuts and seeds.

“And don’t forget, if you’re aged 40-74 years and living in England, you’re entitled to a free NHS Health Check every five years.”

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Below are Helen’s top five ways of reducing the risk of developing high cholesterol.

1. Reduce saturated fat intake – for example switch butter for vegetables and olive oils, or plant-based spreads

2. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day

3. Eat more fibre – for example swap white bread, rice and pasta for wholegrain

4. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week

5. Eat less red meat – switch it up for oily fish or beans and pulses

The NHS recommends to have a cholesterol test if you've not had a one before and you're over 40, overweight, or high cholesterol or heart problems run in your family.

  • High Cholesterol

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