High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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High cholesterol is a condition that refers to increased levels of cholesterol – a waxy substance produced inside the liver. Although cholesterol is needed to build healthy cells, high levels tip the balance, causing a slew of serious problems in the process.
Unfortunately, symptoms of high cholesterol only show when “damage has occurred”, warns DocDoc, an artificial intelligence-powered health company.
As the health body explains, if certain arteries become blocked with cholesterol, parts of the body connected to them may experience some pain.
“For example, if there is a blockage in the leg arteries, this can cause pain while walking.”
The health portal adds: “Unfortunately, these symptoms usually manifest themselves only after the damage has occurred.”
Waiting around for symptoms to show up is an ill-advised approach because high cholesterol is marked by an absence of symptoms.
There is no other way to detect the disease other than by having regular blood screening.
“Your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high,” explains the NHS.
The health body continues: “This may be because of your age, weight or another condition you have (like high blood pressure or diabetes).”
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It says to ask your GP surgery for a cholesterol test if you have not had a test before and you’re over 40, overweight, or have high cholesterol or heart problems run in your family.
There are two ways of having a cholesterol test:
- Taking blood from your arm
- Finger-prick test.
To begin with, your GP will recommend some lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
According to Bupa, quitting smoking is one the most important interventions you can make.
“If you smoke, you have less good cholesterol in your bloodstream,” warns the health body.
There isn’t a high cholesterol-busting diet per se but making healthy food swaps can help to reduce high levels.
“Try to replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats where you can,” advises Bupa.
Saturated fat is the kind of fat found in butter, lard, ghee, fatty meats and cheese.
UK health guidelines recommend that:
- The average man aged 19 to 64 years should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat a day
- The average woman aged 19 to 64 years should eat no more than 20g of saturated fat a day.
Good sources of unsaturated fat include vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed, nut and seed oils.
Other sources include:
- Avocado, nuts and seeds
- Fat spreads made from vegetable oils, such as sunflower and olive Oil
- Oily fish.
“Oily fish are a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, specifically a type called omega-3 fats,” adds cholesterol charity Heart UK.
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