High cholesterol: The best type of cooking oil to lower levels – ‘packed’ with benefits

High cholesterol: The best type of cooking oil to lower levels – ‘packed’ with benefits

Why cholesterol is bad for you

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Frying up food is one cooking method that requires an extra ingredient – oil. There are plenty of options to choose from including vegetable oil, sunflower oil and coconut oil among many others. One oil, however, could have more benefits than others.

According to Piedmont Healthcare, olive oil can reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood.

It says: “Olive oil is packed full of beneficial antioxidants that can lower your ‘bad’ (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol while leaving your ‘good’ (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol untouched.

“The cholesterol-lowering effects of olive oil are even greater if you choose extra-virgin olive oil, which means the oil is less processed and contains more heart-healthy antioxidants.”

Having high cholesterol means you have too much of a fatty substance – cholesterol – in the blood.

If not treated, this can lead to serious health issues such as heart attacks and strokes.

High-density lipoprotein – the “good” cholesterol – reduces the risk of heart disease and other conditions by absorbing cholesterol and carrying it back to the liver.

But low-density lipoprotein – the “bad” cholesterol – increases your risk as it can block your blood vessels.

The benefits of olive oil for cooking were backed by a study published by The New England Journal of Medicine in 2013.

As part of the research, the team enrolled participants who were at high cardiovascular risk, to one of three diets.

These were a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts, or a control diet.

This diet consisted of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, cereals, a “moderate intake” of fish and poultry, a “low” intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets, and wine “in moderation”, consumed with meals.

The study states: “In this trial, an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil or nuts resulted in an absolute risk reduction of approximately three major cardiovascular events per 1,000 person-years, for a relative risk reduction of approximately 30 percent, among high-risk persons who were initially free of cardiovascular disease.”

The paper concludes: “We observed that an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet, supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts, resulted in a substantial reduction in the risk of major cardiovascular events among high-risk persons.”

As a general rule, a healthy level of total cholesterol in the blood is five or less millimoles per litre (mmol/l).

More specifically, a healthy level of high-density lipoprotein is one or more mmol/l.

And you should have four or less mmol/l of low-density lipoprotein.

To find out if your cholesterol levels are high your doctor will need to take a blood test.

Having high cholesterol is mainly caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough and being overweight.

Other common causes of high cholesterol include smoking and drinking alcohol.

It can also run in families.

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