High cholesterol affects six out of 10 people in the UK. It’s vital to lower high cholesterol as it increases the risk of developing a number of health complications. As well as heart disease, high cholesterol can increase the risk of having a stroke. “The good news is, by taking simple steps towards a healthier diet and lifestyle, you can help to lower your cholesterol,” said nutritionist Sarah Franciosi. Franciosi shares five simple tips to help you lower your cholesterol levels:
Regular exercise can help to improve your ‘good’ HDL cholesterol level. HDL cholesterol helps to remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream and returns it to the liver where it is broken down and passed out of the body.
Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, five or more times a week. Talk to a healthcare professional first if you have a particular health concern.
Switch to healthier cooking methods
Grilling, steaming, boiling and baking use less fat than frying, so try these cooking methods to help you cut back on saturated fats.
You can also cook and bake with specific cholesterol-lowering spreads, which are healthier than using butter and some oils.
Eat more fruit and veg
Aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. This will provide you with fibre and a range of vitamins.
Some fruit and veg also contain soluble fibre which can help lower cholesterol. Other foods that contain soluble fibre include oats, beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas.
Drink in moderation
The recommended daily alcohol consumption is no more than two to three units a day for women and no more than three to four units a day for men.
One unit of alcohol equals a small glass of wine, half a pint of normal strength lager, cider or beer, or one pub measure of spirits.
Swap out saturated fats
Saturated fat is found in high-fat dairy foods such as cream, whole milk, hard cheese and butter, as well as in fatty cuts of meat and in cakes, biscuits and pastries.
Unsaturated fat is better for your heart health and is found in a wide range of tasty and versatile foods.
These include oily fish – like salmon, mackerel and herring – nuts, seeds and vegetable oils and spreads – like olive, rapeseed and sunflower.
“One of the most common causes of high cholesterol in people in the UK is eating too much saturated fat, so try cutting that out,” said the nutritionist.
“Lack of regular exercise, being overweight, drinking a lot of alcohol and smoking can also raise cholesterol levels, so changing any of these can also be beneficial for lowering cholesterol, as well as contributing to better overall health.”