How to lower cholesterol with diet: Key foods to avoid – and what to eat more of

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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High cholesterol can cause a wealth of health issues such as heart attack and stroke. Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is found in blood, and when the levels of cholesterol increase it can block blood vessels triggering serious health issues.

There are a number of things which can cause high cholesterol, including being overweight, not exercising enough, smoking and drinking alcohol.

If high cholesterol runs in your family you may also be predisposed to develop it.

You won’t develop symptoms from high cholesterol, and it can only be found during a blood test.

You can ask your GP for a blood test if you are worried about your cholesterol levels. 

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The NHS says you should ask your GP for a cholesterol test if

  • you have not had a test before and
  • you’re over 40
  • overweight
  • or high cholesterol or heart problems run in your family

While the impacts of high cholesterol can cause severe heart problems or a stroke, there are a couple of things you can do to reduce your risk.

Key ways to reduce your cholesterol level include changes to your lifestyle – like exercising more, drinking less, quitting smoking and altering your diet.

High cholesterol can be triggered by eating fatty foods, and so you should avoid these if looking to reduce your risk or lower cholesterol levels.

The NHS advises you eat less

  • meat pies, sausages and fatty meat
  • butter, lard and ghee
  • cream and hard cheese, like cheddar
  • cakes and biscuits
  • food that contains coconut oil or palm oil

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Try also to limit your salt intake, and watch for foods high in saturated fats – less than seven percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fat.

Losing weight is a good way to reduce your cholesterol levels.

You can make small changes like cutting out fizzy drinks, swapping snacks like crisps for baked crisps or popcorn.

Calorie counting is one way to keep on top of the amount of food you are eating – and cutting down your calories can help shift some weight.

You could also try and up your physical activity, like taking a walk during your lunch break, trying to hit 10,000 steps a day or completing a challenge like the NHS Couch to 5K.

While aiming to lower your cholesterol the NHS says you should eat more

  • oily fish, like mackerel and salmon
  • brown rice, bread and pasta
  • nuts and seeds
  • fruits and vegetables

Try and aim for fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and prunes, and vegetables like kidney beans, lentils, chick peas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans.

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