If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can increase your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.
Healthy cholesterol levels are maintained with a healthy diet and regular physical activity. When a diet higher in salt, saturated fat and sugar is regularly consumed, cholesterol levels are likely to rise. It is important to control dietary habits to reduce the rate of cholesterol build up as high cholesterol is linked to cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and strokes.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol can be described as a fatty substance which is carried around in the body by proteins. There are two types of cholesterol; bad cholesterol (low density lipoproteins LDL) and good cholesterol (high density lipoproteins HDL). The low density lipoproteins carry cholesterol from the liver to the cells. The high density lipoproteins carry cholesterol from the cells to the liver to be disposed of. If the levels of bad cholesterol start to increase above that recommended then the fatty substance starts to line the walls of arteries which then leads on to the development of heart disease.
How do I keep my cholesterol levels healthy?
You need to be aware of your nutritional habits and reduce foods which contain saturated or trans fats. Try and consume a diet higher in the following:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Wholegrain foods
- High fibre foods such as beans, lentil, oats, fruits and vegetables. Look at foods which contain soluble fibre
- Oily fish
- Olive oil and sunflower oils/spreads
Try and choose healthy methods when cooking to reduce fat intake such as boiling, steaming, grilling and poaching. Avoid frying and roasting. Remember to consider your portion sizes too.
What should I avoid?
It is important to understand that there are foods which naturally contain higher amounts of cholesterol, such as seafood, eggs and kidneys, and these can be consumed as part of a healthy balanced diet unless otherwise advised by a medical professional. It is suggested that fats are more influential for raising cholesterol therefore avoid products high in saturated and trans fats.
Examples include butter, cream, hard cheese, cakes, biscuits, fatty cuts of meat and oils such as coconut oil.
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