Friday, 22 Sep 2023

High cholesterol: Three ways to improve your cholesterol levels

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Too much cholesterol clumped together in the arteries can prevent blood flow to the brain, leading to a life-threatening stroke. Or, if the coronary arteries are affected, you could be on your way to a heart attack.

The NHS recognises how dangerous high cholesterol is, so it’s put forward ways to reduce this risk to life.

One key area for improving cholesterol is your diet; specifically, you must limit (or better yet, avoid) saturated fat.

Say goodbye to sausage sandwiches, meat pies and hard cheeses (Cheddar, Parmesan and Pecornio).

These food items are high in saturated fat, as are: cakes, biscuits, cream, butter, ghee and lard.

This also includes foods containing coconut or palm oil; instead, opt for unsaturated fats.

Eating unsaturated fats (in place of saturated fats) can help reduce cholesterol levels.

Unsaturated fat includes: oily fish, such as mackerel and salmon; nuts, such as almonds and cashews; pumpkin and sunflower seeds; avocados vegetable oils.

Vegetable oils include: rapeseed, vegetable, olive, corn and walnut oils.

Also linked to diet is incorporating more fibre into your meals, suggests the NHS.

Eating plenty of fibre can “lower your risk of heart disease” and “help lower cholesterol”.

The goal is to aim for 30g of fibre daily, which can include fruits, vegetables, oats and barley.

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Other sources of fibre include nuts, seeds, beans, peas, lentils, potatoes (with the skins on) and wholemeal bread, bran and wholegrain cereals.

The third tip to reduce cholesterol levels, shared by the NHS, is to exercise more.

Doing at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week can help improve cholesterol levels.

That’s just over 20 minutes of exercise daily, which can be completed by a brisk walk, cycling or jogging.

Other activities that get your heart rate going include dancing, home workouts and running.

The telling sign you’re working hard enough is if you can’t sing while doing the activity.

It’s absolutely fine to still be able to talk, but if you can sing, you need to increase the intensity.

The easiest way to incorporate more exercise into your life is to walk everywhere.

If there’s an option to take the lift or the stairs (and you’re able to), then take the stairs.

When driving to the supermarket, park a bit further away from the store so you can get in some leg action.

Don’t fear about carrying too much shopping, that’s what shopping trolleys are for.

If you happen to be taking public transport to the shop, you could get off a stop earlier on your way there.

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