High cholesterol means there is too much cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver. It performs many important roles in the body, such as helping your body form cell membranes, several hormones, and vitamin D. However, excessive amounts of cholesterol can clog the arteries, thus increasing the risk of heart disease.
You can lower high cholesterol levels by adopting a healthy lifestyle. There are many foods that are not only part of a healthy diet, but can actively help lower blood cholesterol as well.
The most important dietary advice is to cut back on the saturated fats found in fatty cuts of meat and meat products, including sausages and pies.
According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats is key to lowering high cholesterol.
Sources of unsaturated fats include:
- Vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed, walnut and seed oils
- Avocados, nuts and seeds
- Spreadable fats made from vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil and olive oil
- oily fish;
“Oily fish is a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, specifically a type called omega-3 fats,” Heart UK explains.
“Try to eat two servings of fish a week, at least one of which should be fatty.”
Other essential tips
Regular exercise can also lead to a significant reduction in high cholesterol levels.
According to the Mayo Clinic, moderate physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol.
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol picks up “bad” cholesterol from the blood and transports it to the liver, where it is eliminated.
The Mayo Clinic advises: “With your doctor’s approval, get at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three times a week.”
Vigorous activity makes you breathe hard and fast. If you work at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing to catch your breath.
“Overall, 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week can give health benefits similar to 150 minutes of moderate activity,” the NHS notes.