High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Narrowed arteries – symbolic of atherosclerosis – restricts blood flow to various body parts, forcing the heart muscle to work even harder and, inevitably, spiking blood pressure. One much-loved ingredient that could be contributing to high cholesterol is cheese. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) pointed out that cheese is often high in saturated fat and salt.
Consumption of foods high in saturated fat and salt can lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure – both of which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
High-fat cheeses include Mascarpone, Stilton, hard cheeses, Parmesan, Brie, and Paneer.
Quite worryingly, Medical News Today noted that high cholesterol usually doesn’t have any symptoms.
Routine blood tests can help determine if you have high cholesterol or not.
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A reading of 200mg/dL is borderline high cholesterol, whereas 240mg/dL is considered high cholesterol.
Ideally, cholesterol levels should be less than 100mg/dL, otherwise you’re increasing your risk of a heart attack.
One of the best ways to lower cholesterol levels is to eat a heart-healthy diet.
The cholesterol charity Heart UK recommend people wishing to lower their cholesterol levels to “cut down on fat and saturated fat”.
Foods high in saturated fats include:
- Milk and white chocolate, toffee, cakes, puddings and biscuits
- Pastries and pies
- Fatty meat, such as lamb chops
- Processed meat, such as sausages, burgers, bacon and kebabs
- Butter, lard, ghee, dripping, margarine, goose fat and suet
- Coconut and palm oils and coconut cream
- Full-fat dairy products such as cream, milk, yoghurt, crème fraiche and cheese.
“Healthy eating can make a huge difference to your cholesterol levels and your heart health,” the charity pointed out.
Healthier food options include:
- Lean chicken or turkey (with the skin removed)
- White and oily fish
- Semi-skimmed milk
- Low-fat yoghurts
- Low-fat cheese
- Hummus and vegetable sticks
- Dried fruit.
The NHS added that people wishing to lower their cholesterol levels should eat more:
- Brown rice, bread and pasta
- Fruits and vegetables.
Exercise can also be a key way to help prevent even higher cholesterol levels.
The national health service strongly recommends everybody to do at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.
Daily activities such as walking, swimming, or cycling are a great way to get into shape.
It’s also key to stop smoking if this is a habit you’ve developed in your lifetime.
“Smoking can raise your cholesterol and make you more likely to have serious problems like heart attacks, strokes and cancer,” the NHS warned.
To access help to stop smoking, the NHS Stop Smoking Service is free – the helpline is available on 0300 123 1044.
Another unhealthy habit to curb is drinking too much alcohol, which can also make cholesterol levels worse.
The NHS added that people should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol weekly.
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