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High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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When you have too much cholesterol in your blood, you increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attack and stroke. While good cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins) is essential to take cholesterol away to be broken down in your liver, bad cholesterol (Non-high-density lipoproteins) clog your blood vessels and narrow your arteries. Good cholesterol is made in your body daily and needed in every single cell, but you take in bad cholesterol through your diet. Express.co.uk chatted to Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy to find out what you should be eating to lower your cholesterol fast.

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Cholesterol is a fatty molecule found in your bloodstream – it is synthesised in the liver, but also taken into your body in the food you eat.

High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are said to be ‘good cholesterol’ as they carry cholesterol away from the heart and the arteries, to be cleared in the liver.

A raised HDL level is generally good, but a raised Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) level is extremely dangerous.

Dr Lee explained: “Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are ‘bad cholesterol’ that carry cholesterol to your heart and arteries, antabuse 500 mg where fatty plaques can then develop.

“These then block the flow of blood to the tissue distal to the blockage. A raised LDL cholesterol is generally bad.”

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Raised cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes).

Even if your cholesterol levels are only slightly elevated, your blood pressure will still be raised.

Although a raised cholesterol is most often due to dietary factors, it can also be caused by conditions such as hypothyroidism, obesity, a high alcohol intake, anorexia nervosa, chronic kidney disease and more.

Cholesterol levels can also be exacerbated by smoking, too much salt in the diet and too much alcohol.

Dr Lee pointed out that your cholesterol is also more likely to be high later in life, or if you have a South Asian, African, or African-Caribbean background or are going through menopause.

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As mentioned, cholesterol is continuously produced in your liver.

However, you also take in cholesterol in your diet by eating eggs, shellfish, meat, and dairy products.

Dr Lee said: “In the Western world, our diet tends to have too, much rather than too little, cholesterol”

These three simple dietary changes will lower your cholesterol FAST.

Healthy fats

Full-fat dairy products, fatty meat such as bacon, sausages, salami and meat products such as pastries, and pies, biscuits, cakes and pastries, butter, cream, ghee, lard and cheese, coconut and palm oils, ice cream and chocolate, all raise your cholesterol.

Dr Lee said: “This doesn’t mean you can’t have any – it just means only small portions from time to time.”

Instead, you should be eating healthier fats such as unsaturated fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Dr Lee said: “Monounsaturated fats include olive, sesame, and rapeseed oil, avocados, and nuts such as almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts.

“Polyunsaturated fats include oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or trout, sunflower, soya, corn or sunflower oils and spreads, flax, pumpkin and sesame seeds and walnuts.

“Choose lower-fat milk and yoghurts and if you need a sauce, have a tomato sauce instead.

“Go for lean meat such as chicken, or turkey, or eat fish.

“Eat plenty of vegetables, lentils, beans and chickpeas, have fresh fruit, and use nuts and seeds in your cooking.”

Fibre

Start eating more fibre to reduce your cholesterol.

Fibre is an indigestible carbohydrate found in many fruits and vegetables, whole grains and pulses, nuts and seeds.

Dr Lee explained: “Fibre is vital for good health as it bulks out the intestines and stimulates the passage of food through the gut.

“As the food moves along, the fibre content helps reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. It can also help improve glucose metabolism.”

Make sure you eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, Dr Lee advised.

She advised: “Avoid white foods such as white bread, and white rice and white pasta.

“Go for whole grains which are unrefined and have a higher fibre content – such as brown bread and bread, brown rice and brown pasta.”

Plant stanols and sterols

Plant foods contain substances called stanols and sterols which can naturally lower cholesterol, so you should start incorporating more of these in your diet.

Dr Lee said: “You can buy foods that contain fortified levels of stanols and sterols specifically to help lower your cholesterol.

“If you take in 1.2g to 2.4 g per day, this can lower your cholesterol by 10 percent.
“These foods are fortified milks, spreads, and yoghurts.”

As a general rule you should have two to three portions of fortified products per day, for for example, this might be two teaspoons of fortified spread, one fortified yoghurt, and/or one 250 ml glass of fortified milk, Dr Lee said.

She explained: “These fortified products can be taken if you are also taking cholesterol-lowering medication.

“However, they should be used as well, and not instead of any prescribed treatment.”

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