High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Having high cholesterol means you have too much of a fatty substance – cholesterol – in your blood. If the cholesterol blocks your blood vessels it can cause some of the more dangerous complications, such as heart problems. A major contributor to cholesterol levels is lifestyle – so eating less fatty foods and exercising more can help.
Dean Zweck, product development manager at gym chain Total Fitness, explained: “Being diagnosed with high cholesterol can be very worrying but there are steps that can be taken to lower your cholesterol.
“Firstly, not all cholesterol is bad.
“There are two main types of cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), which is considered bad, and high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) which remove cholesterol from the arteries – reducing plaques to help in protecting your heart.
“The most studied type of exercise to help improve your cholesterol levels is cardio or aerobic training.
“Activities such as running, cycling, swimming or cross training have been shown to reduce LDL levels and increase HDL levels.”
He said that the amount of training was more beneficial than the intensity when it comes to tackling cholesterol.
“So, walking can have as much benefit as running as long as you do the same amount of time,” he said.
“The World Health Organisation recommends five lots of 30 minute sessions a week.
“So, being moderately active throughout the week will beat going to the gym one or twice a week for longer sessions.”
Mr Zweck said weight training was key.
“Individuals who engage in resistance training can clear the harmful LDLs from their bloodstream faster than those who don’t,” he added.
“This is the same for all ages, so you are never too old to start lifting some weights.
“Additionally, people who combine cardio and weights lose more weight than people who just do cardio.”
He put together an “ideal” weekly exercise plan:
Monday – spin
Tuesday – upper body resistance
Wednesday – circuit class
Thursday – run and cross trainer
Friday – lower body resistance
Saturday – squash (or other sport)
Sunday – rest
He said: “When combining all of this with simple daily activities, such as walks and a healthy diet, you’ll be well on your way to improving your cholesterol levels.
“In summary, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re active frequently and regularly.
“Finding an exercise you enjoy is key – ideally combining both cardio and resistance will see the best results.”
Mr Zweck also recommended foods to help lose weight, which in turn improves cholesterol levels.
He commented: “As with any good weight loss plan, combining exercise with a diet based around lean proteins such as fish, chicken and pulses, fruit and vegetables, grains and healthy fats such as nuts and seeds will yield the greatest results.”
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