High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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High cholesterol does not tend to cause symptoms, so you can only find out if you have it from a blood test. Changing what you eat, being more active, and stopping smoking can help get your cholesterol back to a healthy level.
More than two in five people in England have high cholesterol which puts them at significant risk of developing heart disease, according to NHS figures.
Fortunately, exercise may help, and it doesn’t really matter what activity you pick. It can be anything from yoga to dancing.
But doing just 150 minutes of exercise weekly can improve your cholesterol, the NHS reports.
Indeed, the Cleveland Clinic reports that there are many “easy” exercises that can help lower your cholesterol, including going for a brisk walk. Nonetheless, you should check with your doctor about exercising, and what type will be best for you, it adds.
It’s important to keep up this practice so it might be worth joining a group or finding someone to exercise with, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The NHS recommends maintaining cholesterol levels below 5mmol/L.
In the UK, however, three out of five adults have a total cholesterol of 5mmol/L or above, and the average cholesterol level is about 5.7mmol/L, which can be a risk factor in heart disease.
If you have been advised to make dietary changes, there are a number of things to consider.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that “by living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your cholesterol in a healthy range and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke”.
It explains: “Your body makes all of the cholesterol it needs, so you do not need to obtain cholesterol through foods.
“Eating lots of foods high in saturated fat and trans fat may contribute to high cholesterol and related conditions, such as heart disease.”
It suggests that you “limit” foods high in saturated fat and instead choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.
The organisation states: “Too much alcohol can raise cholesterol levels and the levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood.”
It adds: “Avoid drinking too much alcohol. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women should have no more than one”.
The NHS says: “To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat.
“You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat.”
Indeed, the British Dietetic Association has outlined “a few small changes to your diet” which it says “can make a big difference to your cholesterol”.
You might need medicine to lower your cholesterol if your cholesterol level has not gone down after changing your diet and lifestyle.
You may also need medicine if you’re at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, according to the NHS.
Statins are the most common medicine for high cholesterol, according to the health service, and work by reducing the amount of cholesterol your body makes.
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