Cholesterol isn’t all bad – some of the fatty lipid is needed to stay healthy. However, an abundance of cholesterol is a risky business. Here’s how you can lower it.
Too much of this fatty lipid can clog up your arteries – the blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the tissues of the body.
The cholesterol charity Heart UK explained how fatty deposits of cholesterol can harden over time.
Lining the inside of the arteries, hardened pieces of cholesterol cause the arteries to become stiff and narrow – a process known as atherosclerosis.
As the arteries become narrow, it’s harder for blood to pump through them, putting a strain on your heart muscle.
As the heart works harder to pump blood around the body, it can lead to cardiovascular diseases.
For instance, it may result in coronary heart disease that can lead to chest pain and strokes.
Moreover, atherosclerosis can lead to angina, heart attacks and heart failure – and premature death.
Eating too much saturated fat – found in animal products – can lead to high cholesterol.
For example, meat, butter and products made with dairy products (such as cakes and biscuits) aren’t good for your health in high quantities.
Surprisingly, saturated fat can also be found in coconut and palm oils.
Eating foods that contain too much saturated fat alters the way the liver handles cholesterol.
The liver cells have LDL receptors on them, which enables them to collect cholesterol from the bloodstream.
Once the cholesterol has been transported into the liver, it can be broken down – a useful bodily response to keep cholesterol levels under control.
However, research suggests that eating too much saturated fat stops the receptors from working, so cholesterol builds up in the blood.
All these foods listed below are high in saturated fat, just so you’re aware:
- Milk and white chocolate
- Lamb chops
- Goose fat
- Coconut oil
- Pal oil
- Coconut cream
- Crème fraiche
Many foods contain a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fats, so it’s better to eat foods that have higher unsaturated fat levels.
Wait, so not all fat is bad for you? No. Unsaturated fats can be viewed as healthy fats that can help you reduce your cholesterol levels.
Heart UK suggests replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oils.
When cooking, use olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed, nut and seed oils, which will be better for your health.
Instead of using butter (a saturated fat) as spread in a sandwich, replace it with avocado (an unsaturated fat).
Also aim to snack on nuts and seeds, which are also unsaturated fats that will help you lower your cholesterol levels.
Oily fish is also a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, specifically omega-3 fats.
Some examples include salmon, sardines, pilchards, trout, herring and mackerel.
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