High cholesterol is when a person has too much cholesterol (a fatty substance) in their blood. Eating fatty food and drinking alcohol are some of the main causes of the condition. But not all cholesterol found in the body is bad – HDL cholesterol, nicknamed ‘good’ cholesterol, makes a person less likely to have heart problems or a stroke. So it’s good to have some of this.
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But LDL cholesterol, also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, is the type of cholesterol that makes a person more likely to have heart problems or a stroke.
To lower cholesterol, the NHS recommends cutting down on fatty food.
But cooking oil is a source of fat – so which one is considered best when it comes to lowering cholesterol?
According to experts, foods high in saturated fat increase ‘bad’ cholesterol, but other types of fat can encourage ‘good’ cholesterol.
With this in mind, studies have demonstrated how sunflower oil can help control cholesterol levels.
Sunflower oil’s cholesterol benefits are believed to be linked to its oleic (monounsaturated fatty acid) content.
Research suggested a diet rich in oleic acid may help reduce cholesterol levels.
One study involving 15 health adults found those who ate a diet rich in high oleic sunflower oil for 10 weeks had significantly lower blood levels of LDL cholesterol, compared with those who ate a diet containing a similar amount of saturated fat.
Another study involving 24 people with high blood lips levels found consuming a diet with high oleic sunflower oil for eight weeks led to significant increases in HDL cholesterol, compared with a diet without sunflower oil.
The NHS recommends cutting down on foods high in saturated fat to reduce cholesterol.
It advises to eat less:
- Meat pies, sausages and fatty meat
- Butter, lard and ghee
- Cream and hard cheese, like cheddar
- Cakes and biscuits
- Foods that contains coconut oil or palm oil
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We all need some fat in our diets. It’s getting the right balance of the different types of fat, says Heart UK.
Foods that contain unsaturated fats are recommended when keeping cholesterol levels in check.
Try eating more:
- Oily fish, like mackerel and salmon
- Brown rice, bread and pasta
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruits and vegetables
Other ways to lower cholesterol
The NHS also recommends other ways to lower cholesterol, such as aiming to do at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.
Smoking can raise cholesterol, so stopping is also advised.
Cutting down on alcohol can also reduce high cholesterol.
The health body says: “Try to avoid drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week, have several drink-free days each week, and avoid drinking lots of alcohol in a short time (binge drinking).
“Ask your GP for help and advice if you’re struggling to cut down.”
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