High cholesterol: Can you smell that? Three smelly symptoms associated with high levels

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood that performs many important functions, chief among is building healthy cells. However, consistently high levels can raise your risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, your body does not usually alert you to high cholesterol, so you must get a blood test to check for it.

Mounting evidence suggests there are exceptions to this rule.

A number of discernible bodily changes have been tied to high cholesterol levels.

A 2020 study published in the journal Laryngoscope found a curious link between high cholesterol levels and “phantom odour perception”.

Phantom odour perception was defined as a report of an unpleasant, bad, or burning odour when nothing is there.

To arrive at this conclusion, cross-sectional data were collected as part of the 2011 to 2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, yielding a nationally representative sample of 7,417 adults aged 40 years and older.

Participants reported on vascular conditions including history of stroke. Total cholesterol was also measured.

Among the key findings was that adults with diagnosed, but controlled, high cholesterol reported phantom odours more frequently than those without high cholesterol.

The association also held for other heart disease precursors and associated conditions.

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Stroke was associated with a 76 percent greater likelihood of phantom odour perception.

Adults with diagnosed, but controlled, high blood pressure reported phantom odours more frequently than those without high blood pressure.

What’s more, the researchers observed a threefold greater odds of phantom odour perception among adults aged 60 years and older with diabetes, but only among those who use both insulin and oral medications.

They concluded: “Stroke, angina, congestive heart failure, well-managed high blood pressure, and well-managed high cholesterol are associated with phantom odour perception.”

How to lower high levels

The best way to ward off high cholesterol complications is to keep cholesterol levels in check.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet can provide a buffer against high cholesterol levels.

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.”

Meat pies, sausages and fatty meat are some of the worst culprits.

You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat, notes the NHS.

Try to eat more:

  • Oily fish, like mackerel and salmon
  • Brown rice, bread and pasta
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fruits and vegetables.

Exercise can also land a blow to high cholesterol levels. The NHS says to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week.

Some good things to try when starting out include:

  • Walking – try to walk fast enough so your heart starts beating Faster
  • Swimming
  • Cycling.

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