High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Sneaky in its nature, high cholesterol doesn’t cause many symptoms while wreaking havoc in your arteries. The waxy substance can eventually pile up and lead to heart problems and stroke. That’s why it’s important to keep your levels in check.
While not all cholesterol is harmful, the “bad” type, also known as LDL cholesterol, is the culprit responsible for higher risk of severe health problems.
According to the NHS, high cholesterol affects more than 40 percent of people in the UK.
While an unhealthy diet rich in saturated fats can set the condition off, the opposite can help undo the damage.
Ellouise Simpson, dietitian at City Dietitians, has shared that avocado could help bust your levels.
With tomato being a fruit and rhubarb classified as a vegetable, it’s no secret that the world of fruit and veg can occasionally be difficult to navigate.
While you might know that avocado – although often paired with savoury dishes- is a fruit, Simpson explains it’s a “berry” to be exact.
How can avocado help lower cholesterol?
The dietitian said: “Avocados are a nutrient-dense fruit, rich in monounsaturated fats, which are a form of unsaturated fat, and contain a good source of fibre.
“Opting for unsaturated fats in place of saturated fats helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood and decreases the amount of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or bad cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream.”
Simpson used a hair care analogy to explain what exactly unsaturated fats do in your body.
She said: “I like to give the example of unsaturated fat being like a really good hair conditioner.
“It helps to make the strands of your hair (arteries) feel silky smooth and stops unwanted deposits (plaque) from sticking, while keeping your hair (arteries) flexible.”
This means that unsaturated fats help prevent fatty deposits from building up in your arteries, which consequently reduces your risk of a heart attack and stroke.
When it comes to the time frame before you see your cholesterol levels drop, Simpson explained it depends on your overall diet, lifestyle and body composition.
“However, some may see a reduction in their total cholesterol level in a matter of weeks and others in months,” she noted.
She also provided a list of snack and meal ideas that will allow you to easily incorporate avocados into your routine:
- Avocado dip
- Avocado on toast
- Avocado smoothies
- Avocado salad.
How to lower your cholesterol through food?
While opting for the berry can be the first step in the right direction on your cholesterol-busting journey, avocados on their own aren’t enough, according to the expert.
She explained: “To help lower your cholesterol, you are advised to adopt a heart-healthy diet by cutting down on saturated fat, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, staying physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.
“No one food item can reduce your cholesterol levels, however, you can include cholesterol-lowering foods like avocado, oats, beans, pulses and reduce your salt and alcohol intake.
“Most importantly, if you have been prescribed medication to help lower your cholesterol level, it’s advised to follow the advice which has been given by your healthcare provider,” Simpson concluded.
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