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It’s National Cholesterol Month this October, where Heart UK aims to raise awareness around the dangers of high cholesterol. If you keep up with our blog, you’ll know that high cholesterol can increase your risk of developing several serious conditions, including heart attacks and strokes.
Anyone is at risk of developing high cholesterol, including children. There are some factors you can’t control, such as your ethnic background, gender, age and family history, but there are many factors that you can control. So, without further ado, here are some steps you can start taking today to help lower your cholesterol.
Saturated fat is one of the biggest culprits in terms of raising your blood cholesterol from a dietary point of view. Unfortunately, it’s found in a lot of tasty food such as fatty meat, pies, butter, cream, hard cheeses, cakes, biscuits and more.
This doesn’t mean giving them up altogether, but reducing your intake of saturated fat is definitely a step in the right direction. Always read the label on the food you eat, and try to avoid foods that contain saturated fat.
Conversely, there are some really healthy foods you can eat that contain much less saturated fat. Try to eat more:
Physical activity is one of the absolute best things that you can do for your physical and mental wellbeing. And we’re not talking about going for a 30-minute jog every day, and spending 2 hours in the gym, either.
The average adult should aim to do 150 minutes of exercise a week (2.5 hours). Ideally, this should be spread over several days i.e. not all in one session.
Exercise can be as simple as going for a brisk walk to get your heart beating faster. A good rule of thumb to tell if you’re exerting yourself enough is that you should be able talk, but you shouldn’t be able to sing the words to a song. Not that you’d do that anyway, but feel free to try!
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, swimming and cycling are also excellent and enjoyable forms of exercise that will help to get your heart beating faster.
According to the NHS, some high-fibre foods can, in fact, help to lower your cholesterol, as well as lowering your risk of heart disease. Your best bet is still to lower your saturated fat intake, but fibre is ultimately part of a healthy, balanced diet. Ensuring you aim for at least 30g of fibre a day should help on your journey to controlling your cholesterol.
You should include a mix of fibre sources in your diet. Some great sources include:
In addition to the obvious negative effects – such as heart attacks, strokes and cancer – smoking can also raise your cholesterol.
Simply put, quitting smoking can improve your health in many ways. Visit the NHS Stop Smoking Service website for more information.
When you consume alcohol it is processed by your liver in a way that can ultimately raise the cholesterol levels in your blood. Similarly, overworking your liver (by drinking too much), can cause it to be less effective at reducing the cholesterol in your blood.
The NHS recommends that you should:
Ultimately, everyone’s situation is unique, and only your GP will be able to provide you with the best advice for your situation.
If you’re concerned about your cholesterol, or you’ve recently had a health screen and want to discuss the implications of your results, book an appointment with your GP who will be able to offer the best advice based on your lifestyle.
As always, New Leaf Health bases information on government recommended guidelines and advice. For more information about high cholesterol, and how you can tackle it, visit the NHS website.