High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Nonetheless, the British Diabetic Association (BDA) says to help lower your cholesterol you “do not need to avoid fats altogether”. The BDA suggests you should cut down on foods high in saturated fat and replace them with food high in unsaturated fat. Indeed, the Mayo Clinic explains: “Fat is an important part of your diet, but some kinds are healthier than others.”
The health organisation states: “Dietary fat is essential to your health. It gives you energy and helps your body absorb vitamins.
“But some types of fat may play a role in heart disease and stroke. In addition, fat is high in calories. Eating too many calories can lead to weight gain and possibly obesity.”
It notes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting saturated fat to less than 10 percent of calories a day. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends staying under seven percent of daily calories.
The AHA says this is because saturated fat tends to raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood.
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The Mayo Clinic says: “Studies show that eating foods rich in unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke.
“One type in particular — omega-3 fatty acid — appears to boost heart health by improving cholesterol levels, reducing blood clotting, charity allergy research alternative medicine reducing irregular heartbeats and slightly lowering blood pressure.”
The NHS says most people in the UK eat too much saturated fats. The Government recommends that:
- Men should not eat more than 30g of saturated fat a day
- Women should not eat more than 20g of saturated fat a day.
The NHS says trans fats are found naturally at low levels in some foods, such as meat and dairy products.
It states: “They can also be found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Hydrogenated vegetable oil must be declared on a food’s ingredients list if it’s been included.”
Like saturated fats, trans fats can raise cholesterol levels in the blood.
The Government recommends that adults should not have more than about 5g of trans fats a day.
The NHS outlines a number of other lifestyle changes you may be able to make to lower your cholesterol.
A key one is to cut down on alcohol. You should try to avoid drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week, and avoid binge drinking. You can ask your GP for help if you are struggling to cut down.
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.
If you’re aged 40 to 74, you can get your cholesterol checked as part of an NHS Health Check.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) recommends all adults have a cholesterol check at any age, even if they feel completely well. It should be repeated every five years – or more often if the test was abnormal.
The cholesterol blood test measures your levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and your total cholesterol to HDL ratio.
Your total cholesterol should be 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults or 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk.
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