Saturday, 25 Mar 2023

Four ‘cholesterol-busting foods’ to minimise risks

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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Cholesterol is a blood fat that is made in the liver, but can also enter the bloodstream after eating particular foods. Foods high in saturated fat are bad for your cholesterol, and include cakes, biscuits, and meat pies.

“Evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol can increase the risk of: narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis); heart attack; and stroke,” the NHS says.

Additional health risks of high cholesterol include a mini stroke and peripheral arterial disease.

While foods high in saturated fats should not be eaten on a regular basis, are there any foods that could help to bring down high cholesterol?

According to the cholesterol charity, Heart UK, there are four “cholesterol-busting foods” to incorporate into your diet.

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The first is “foods with added sterols and stanols”, which are plant chemicals that are a similar size and shape to cholesterol.

Heart UK explains: “They are absorbed from the intestines into the blood stream.

“[They] block some cholesterol from being absorbed, lowering the cholesterol in your blood.”

You can find yoghurt drinks, fat spreads, milk, and yoghurts that have plant sterols or stanols added to them.

Heart UK adds: “These fortified foods lower your cholesterol gradually, over a few weeks.”

Yet, the amount to which sterols and stanols help to lower your cholesterol “depends on the amount you eat”.

Another cholesterol-busting combination to add to your diet is oats and barley, which are rich in the fibre beta glucan.

When eaten, beta gluten forms a gel that binds to cholesterol-rich bile acids in the intestines.

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“This helps limit the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed from the gut into your blood,” the charity says.

“Your liver then has to take more cholesterol out of your blood to make more bile, which lowers your blood cholesterol.”

Oats and barley can be found in:

  • Porridge
  • Oat-based cereal
  • Oatcakes
  • Pearl barley.

Nuts are another ingredient that can help to lower cholesterol levels, which contain unsaturated fats, fibre, vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium.

Snacking on nuts can also be filling, which means you are less likely to eat biscuits, for example, which would be bad for your cholesterol levels.

Nuts to eat include: almonds, macadamias, brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts, and pecans

Soya foods can also be beneficial in lowering cholesterol; examples include: soya milk, soya mince, edamame beans, and tofu.

“Try to eat some of these every day as part of your healthy diet,” the charity advises.

“The more you add them to what you eat, the more they can help lower your cholesterol, especially if you cut down on saturated fat as well.”

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