High cholesterol: GP shares the five most effective ways to lower high cholesterol levels10/07/2021
High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood that supports the maintenance of life but having too much of it can raise your risk of heart disease. Thankfully, there are many steps that people can take to lower cholesterol levels and reduce their risk of heart disease. According to doctor Rhianna McClymont, Lead GP at Livi, the digital healthcare provider, there are five optimal ways to lower high cholesterol.
Cut back on saturated fats
“Eating a diet that is high in saturated fats increases the risk of high cholesterol,” warned doctor McClymont.
These fats are found in meat, cheese and other animal-based foods, as well as some vegetable oils (like palm and coconut).
According to doctor McClymont, cutting your saturated fat intake could reduce the risk of heart disease by 17 percent, while switching to unsaturated oils (like sunflower and olive) and generally reducing the amount of fats you use could lower it by as much as 30 percent.
Eat more fibre
Studies show that eating three grams of soluble fibre a day – the amount you get from three apples – can help lower cholesterol.
“You can increase your fibre intake by eating whole grain versions of foods, like cereals, pasta and bread, as well as incorporating more beans, fruit and vegetables into your diet,” advises doctor McClymont.
“Oats are also great as these contain both fibre and beta-glucans, a natural sugar that is also proven to lower cholesterol.”
Aerobic exercise is anything that gets your heart pumping and makes you out of breath, such as running.
According to doctor McClymont, incorporating just two hours of it into your week can reduce the risk of heart disease by 7.6 percent in women and 5.1 percent in men.
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“It also helps to increase your levels of HDL cholesterol, which is the form that protects your heart.”
Doctor McClymont explained: “Aside from the other health dangers, like raising your risk of death from all cancers, studies show that smokers have lower levels of healthy HDL cholesterol than non-smokers.”
However, as she noted, after a person has quit smoking, HDL cholesterol has been seen to begin rising within three weeks, showing a clear connection.
“A GP can talk you through the support available to help you stop smoking for good.”
Swap junk food for home cooking
“Processed foods are often high in saturated fats, refined grains, added sugars and salt, which all increase the risk of high cholesterol and other heart disease risk factors, including weight gain,” warned doctor McClymont.
What does she advise? “Cook from scratch where possible and try to use fresh ingredients.”
Doctor McClymont continued: “It’s also worth considering a more plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet as research shows it can help reduce blood cholesterol by up to 15 percent.”
A Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Greece, Italy and Spain.
The diet includes brightly coloured fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as servings of fish and healthy fats, like olive oil.
It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods.
The Mediterranean diet has been linked with good health, including a healthier heart.
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