High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood that is tasked with many important jobs, such as building cells. However, “high cholesterol” means you have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood. LDL cholesterol hikes your risk of having a heart attack so it’s vital to keep it in check.
Unfortunately, people often stumble into high cholesterol territory because the condition is not usually accompanied by visible warning signs.
There are exceptions to the rule. Xanthomas – fatty lumps that build up under the surface of the skin – can indicate high cholesterol levels.
“Xanthelasma palpebra is a common type of xanthoma that appears on the eyelids,” explains the the University of Florida Health (UF Health).
According to UF Health, it usually occurs without any underlying medical condition.
What do they look like?
UF Health explains: “A xanthoma looks like a yellow to orange bump (papule) with defined borders. There may be several individual ones or they may form clusters.”
According to the Winchester Hospital, the lumps range from very small to up to three inches in size.
Xanthomas may appear anywhere on the body, notes the health body.
“The most common places are the elbows, joints, tendons, knees, hands, feet, and buttocks.”
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How to treat xanthomas
“Xanthomas may go away on their own. Care depends on what’s causing them,” explains the Winchester Hospital.
Taming high cholesterol levels is a great place to start.
Eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise form the two most important pillars of cholesterol control.
“Changing what foods you eat can lower your cholesterol and improve the armada of fats floating through your bloodstream,” explains Harvard Health.
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Harvard Health explains: “Some deliver soluble fibre, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation.
“Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.”
There are also some foods to avoid or cut back on drastically to lower high cholesterol levels.
Eating foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood, warns the American Heart Association.
Saturated fats are found in many foods, both sweet and savoury. Most of them come from animal sources, including meat and dairy products, as well as some plant-based foods.
Foods high in saturated fats include fatty cuts of meat, meat products, including sausages and pies and butter, ghee, and lard.
The government recommends that:
- Men should not eat more than 30g of saturated fat a day
- Women should not eat more than 20g of saturated fat a day
- Children should have less.
“If you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, it’s best to reduce your overall fat intake and swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats,” advises the NHS.
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