High cholesterol: The three most effective foods to help lower your cholesterol levels
Cholesterol is not intrinsically harmful, in fact, your body needs it to build healthy cells. High levels of cholesterol is harmful, however, because it causes fatty deposits to develop in your blood vessels. This increases your risk of heart disease, a major cause of death in the UK and worldwide. Eating more carrots, prunes and avocado, however, could lower your cholesterol.
Diet plays a key role in reducing high cholesterol and certain items have been touted for their cholesterol-lowering properties.
One such item belongs to the root vegetable family – carrots.
Intake of carrots has been linked to lower cholesterol levels in human and animal studies.
In one notable study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who ate two hundred grams of raw carrot for breakfast each day for three weeks observed an 11 percent reduction in their serum cholesterol.
Those who consumed the prunes and prune juice had significantly lower blood pressure levels, total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol than the group that drank water.
LDL cholesterol is generally regarded as the most harmful form of cholesterol because it sticks to the inside your artery walls, restricting the blood flow.
HDL cholesterol, also known as the “good” cholesterol, counters this harmful mechanism by picking up LDL cholesterol and transporting it to the liver where it flushed out.
Another study found that men who had been diagnosed with high cholesterol had lower LDL cholesterol levels after consuming 12 prunes daily for eight weeks.
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Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, research suggests that monounsaturated fat (found in avocados) helps to protect against heart disease.
The NHS recommends four eating habits to help lower cholesterol levels, with the first being to eat oily fish, such as mackerel and salmon.
Moreover, the next step is to choose brown rice, bread and pasta to eat (typically wholemeal).
And to snack on nuts, seeds, fruits – such as avocado – and vegetables.
Dietary tips to lower high cholesterol
In addition to increasing your intake of heart-healthy items, it is also important to reduce your intake of certain foods.
“To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat,” advises the NHS.
Saturated fats will increase the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood, it warns.
Dietician Helen Bond said: “Our increasingly unhealthy lifestyles – poor eating habits that include too much saturated fat, a lack of exercise, smoking, high alcohol intakes and expanding waistlines due to a slowing metabolism – mean that as we move through the decades towards retirement age, the more likely we are to have unhealthy cholesterol levels.
“In fact, according to the latest figures from the Health Survey for England, only a third (35 percent) of 25 to 34 year olds have a total cholesterol above the generally accepted healthy target of 5mmol/l, compared with nearly half (48 percent) of 35-44 year olds, 61 percent of 45-54 year olds and 65 percent of 55-64 year olds.
“Don’t forget, all adults aged 40-74 years living in England are eligible for a free NHS Health Check and it should be repeated every five years.”
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