High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Having high levels of cholesterol in your body could be a precursor for a heart attack or stroke. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) recommends all adults have a cholesterol check at any age, even if they feel completely well. It should be repeated every five years – or more often if the test was abnormal. You may need to lower high levels of cholesterol through making changes to your diet.
If you have high cholesterol, eating plant sterols and stanols can help lower your LDL cholesterol.
Plant stanols and sterols, also known as phytosterols, are cholesterol-like compounds that are found naturally in a range of plant-based foods.
Normally your body’s small intestine absorbs cholesterol from the foods you eat.
To your body, plant sterols and stanols look a lot like cholesterol.
They can prevent the body from absorbing LDL cholesterol which, over time, lowers the level of LDL cholesterol in your blood.
How much do I need to help lower my cholesterol?
The cholesterol-lowering effect varies between individuals.
“There is evidence to show that eating two grams of plant stanols and sterols can lower LDL cholesterol by 7.5 – 12 percent when eaten regularly as part of a healthy diet” explained The Association of UK Dieticians.
They continued: “There does not seem to be a difference in the effect between stanols and sterols.
“If you take statins, eating stanols or sterols will further lower non-HDL cholesterol.
“This is in addition to the 20 – 30 percent reduction achieved by statins alone.”
What to eat:
- Whole grain products
- Rye bread
If you need to lower your cholesterol, the National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that you take in two grams of plant sterols and stanols each day, advised Familydoctor.org.
The health site added: “But plant sterols and stanols alone will not help you reach your cholesterol goals.
“To improve your cholesterol levels, you will also need to make lifestyle changes.
“These include eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising, and quitting smoking.”
If you have been advised to make dietary changes to lower your levels, there are a number of things to consider.
The NHS outlines a number of other lifestyle changes you may be able to make to lower your cholesterol.
A key one is to cut down on alcohol.
You should try to avoid drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week and avoid binge drinking.
You can ask your GP for help if you are struggling to cut down.
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