High cholesterol: Two bodily sensations that indicate cholesterol is ‘hardening’ arteries

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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High cholesterol means you have too much cholesterol – a waxy substance produced inside the liver – in your blood. High cholesterol does not usually present symptoms but it can cause complications that do. One of the most grave is claudication – pain or cramping caused by poor circulation due to blockage of the arteries of the lower extremity.

When high cholesterol causes this process in the legs or feet, it is known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

According to UC Davis Vascular Center, a tired or burning sensation in the buttocks, thigh and/or calf with walking can signal PAD.

Risk factors include “hardening and narrowing” of the arteries due to the buildup of fatty deposits, such as cholesterol, the health body explains.

Other risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of atherosclerosis or claudication.

How to reduce your risk of high cholesterol complications

To stave off the threat posed by high cholesterol, it’s vital to take steps to lower your levels.

Firstly, you must receive a formal diagnosis of high cholesterol. According to the NHS, you can only find out if you have high cholesterol from a blood test.

“Your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high,” explains the health body.

It adds: “If you have high cholesterol, a doctor or nurse will talk to you about how you can lower it.”

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There are several foods which are not just part of a healthy diet, they can actively help to lower your cholesterol too.

Better still, the more you add them to what you eat, the more they can help lower your cholesterol.

According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, cutting down on saturated fat and replacing some of it with unsaturated fat is a great way to lower your cholesterol.

Saturated fat is the kind of fat found in butter, lard, ghee, fatty meats and cheese.

Instead, opt for:

  • Vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed, nut and Seed oils
  • Avocado, nuts and seeds
  • Fat spreads made from vegetable oils, such as sunflower and olive Oil
  • Oily fish.

“Oily fish are a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, specifically a type called omega-3 fats,” explains Heart UK.

The health body says: “Aim to eat two portions of fish per week, at least one of which should be oily.”

In addition to eating well, regular exercise can land a blow to high cholesterol.

UK health guidelines recommend doing 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.

Try a few different exercises to find something you like doing.

As the NHS points out, you’re more likely to keep doing it if you enjoy it.

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