High cholesterol: Three ‘small changes’ to your diet – advice to lower levels

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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High cholesterol does not tend to cause symptoms, so you can only find out if you have it from a blood test. If you have been advised to make dietary changes, there are a number of things to consider. We need some cholesterol to stay healthy, though there are some forms which are considered bad for us.

Changing what you eat, being more active, and stopping smoking can help get your cholesterol back to a healthy level.

The NHS says: “To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat.

“You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat.”

Indeed, the British Dietetic Association has outlined “a few small changes to your diet” which it says “can make a big difference to your cholesterol level”.

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First, it emphasises the importance of choosing healthier fats.

It says: “To help lower your cholesterol you don’t need to avoid fats altogether. You should cut down on foods high in saturated fat and replace them with food high in unsaturated”.

These foods high in unsaturated fat include things such as nuts, seeds, avocado and oily fish.

There are also two other key changes you may need to make.

The British Dietetic Association says: “Compare labels and choose foods with green or amber labels for ‘saturates’.”

Foods are high, red, in saturated fat if they contain more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g.

Foods containing 1.5g or less per 100g are low, green, in saturated fat.

Nonetheless, the site notes: “Some healthy foods that are high in fat like oily fish, nuts and oils, may be red for saturated fat. This is okay, as they contain more of the healthy unsaturated fat.”

Lastly, the organisation advises eating plenty of fibre. This helps lower your risk of heart disease and some high fibre foods can help lower your cholesterol.

To make sure you get enough fibre, it says you should aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, switch to whole grain varieties of bread, cereals, pasta and rice, and choose other high fibre foods such as pulses.

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.

You might need medicine to lower your cholesterol if your cholesterol level has not gone down after changing your diet and lifestyle.

You may also need medicine if you’re at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, according to the NHS.

Statins are the most common medicine for high cholesterol, according to the health service.

Statins work by reducing the amount of cholesterol your body makes.

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