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High cholesterol doesn’t cause symptoms and you can only find out if you have it from a blood test. Because of this, plenty of people go through their lives with high cholesterol. This is extremely dangerous because it makes you more likely to have heart problems or a stroke. Express.co.uk has consulted the experts to reveal three lifestyle swaps to prevent high cholesterol.
High cholesterol is often referred to as a silent killer, since many people die as a result of it because they had no symptoms.
According to Christina Mamada, nutritionist at Vitl.com, we all need some cholesterol in our bodies to stay healthy.
However, having high cholesterol “can block your blood vessels and lead to serious health problems, including heart attacks and strokes.”
She said: “It affects all ages. Anyone can have high cholesterol from an unhealthy diet, genetics or pre-existing conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.”
You can check your cholesterol at home using a finger-prick blood test, but most people get their GP to test them.
The three lifestyle swaps to prevent high cholesterol
Ms Mamada said you can lower your cholesterol through diet and lifestyle.
She said: “Eating healthily (lowering intakes of fatty food, alcohol and smoking) and regular exercise can help lower cholesterol, along with some medicines.”
Express.co.uk talks you through the changes YOU need to make to lower your cholesterol.
READ MORE- Do you have high cholesterol? The diet plan to protect your arteries
Stop smoking and drinking
Heart UK’s site states that both smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol raise your cholesterol.
According to the heart health charity’s website, when you drink alcohol, it’s broken down and rebuilt into triglycerides and cholesterol in the liver.
It explains: “The liver can’t work as well as it should and can’t remove cholesterol from your blood, so your cholesterol levels rise.
“Alcohol can lead to the combination of a high triglyceride level along with low HDL cholesterol, and this can lead to heart disease.”
The Government recommends drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, for men and women.
Those with high cholesterol should aim to drink less than this and spread their units out across the week.
Smoking is just as bad as drinking alcohol, and you’ll need to put down the cigarettes in order to see improvement.
Heart UK says smoking makes your bad cholesterol (LDL) ‘stickier’, helping it to cling to your artery walls and clog them up.
Smoking lowers levels of the good kind of cholesterol cholesterol (HDL) which normally takes cholesterol away from the artery walls.
On top of this, the site explains: “Smoking damages the walls of your arteries, and cholesterol collects in the damaged areas.
“These changes mean your arteries can get clogged up faster.
“Smoking also raises your heart rate, makes your blood vessels contract, and makes your blood thicker and less able to carry oxygen.
“The blood can’t flow around your body easily, your heart has to work harder and blood clots can form, leading to heart attacks and strokes.”
As soon as you stop smoking your risk of heart disease and other problems will drop and daily activities such as walking and exercising will become easier.
After just one year of no smoking your risk of heart disease and heart attacks will be halved, says Heart UK.
Committing to quitting smoking can transform your body and make your chances of getting heart disease as low as someone who has never smoked.
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Change your diet
You are what you eat, they say, and when it comes to high cholesterol this is true.
If you eat foods high in saturated fat such as cakes and biscuits, meat pies, butter, sausages and fatty cuts of meat, you will raise your cholesterol.
The NHS advises replacing these foods with foods containing saturated fats such as oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, vegetable oils and spreads.
You should also try to cut down on trans fats found in meat, milk and dairy foods, as well as artificial trans fats contained in biscuits and cakes.
Stop roasting and frying your food and try to grill, steam, poach, boil, or microwave your meals.
The NHS site states: “Choose lean cuts of meat and go for lower-fat varieties of dairy products and spreads, or eat a smaller amount of full-fat varieties.
“Eating plenty of fibre helps lower your risk of heart disease, and some high-fibre foods can help lower your cholesterol.”
Fill up on at least 30 grams of fibre a day, including wholemeal bread, bran, wholegrain cereals, fruit and vegetables, potatoes, nuts and seeds, and more.
Avoid foods containing cholesterol such as kidneys, eggs and prawns.
It’s important to keep your body moving, no matter how healthily you eat.
Exercising regularly can reduce your risk of major illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, type two diabetes and cancer by up to 50 percent.
It can also lower your risk of early death by up to 30 percent, so what’s not to love?
An active lifestyle is also one of the best ways to lower your cholesterol level.
The NHS recommends doing 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week to improve your cholesterol levels.
The site explains: “Moderate activity will raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.
“One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity level is if you can still talk, but not sing.”
Still not sure what counts as moderate aerobic activity? Here are a few examples:
- brisk walking
- water aerobics
- riding a bike
- doubles tennis
- pushing a lawn mower
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