The average total cholesterol level in the UK is 5.7. Current guidelines state that everyone’s total cholesterol level should be 5 or below.
So how do you lower cholesterol levels?
While we all need to keep our LDL (Low density lipoprotein) levels down we should also be making dietary and lifestyle changes to raise HDL (High density lipoprotein) levels – the so called “Good Cholesterol”
What to Eat of, What to Eat More of………….
Saturated fats and Trans fats are most likely to raise LDL levels in the blood. Saturated fats are found in full-fat dairy foods, meat such as beef and pork and their products. Margarines processed or fried foods and commercially-baked goods usually contain Tran’s fats.
Olive oil, rapeseed oil are better options, as these are monosaturated fats. Omega-3 fats in oily fish can help regulate heart rhythm and reduce blood clotting.
It’s important to have foods such as oats, beans, lentils, fruit and vegetables. These contain soluble fibre that can help lower cholesterol, as the fibre binds to cholesterol so that it is excreted rather than absorbed into the bloodstream. An alternative to high-fibre food is the supplement Psyllium powder.
Sterols and stanols occur in foods such as vegetable oils, nuts, grains, and seeds. Studies suggest that daily consumption of plant sterols or stanols can reduce LDL cholesterol levels, although there is considerable variation between individuals.
Cholesterol and Statins.
Statins are class of cholesterol – lowering drugs that work by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which plays a central role in the liver’s synthesis of cholesterol.
They are widely prescribed to patients with Cardio Vascular Disease, people with elevated cholesterol levels and / or other risk factors like diabetes and hypertension.
If you are overweight, its likely that you will not have enough HDL and too much LDL cholesterol. Obesity also increases your likelihood to have type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which are linked to heart disease.
Smoking and high cholesterol both increase your risk of atherosclerosis. Anyone with high cholesterol should make a concerted effort to quit smoking.
Doing more exercise raises HDL cholesterol and lowers LDL cholesterol, so it’s a good idea to either keep up regular aerobic exercise, or to start doing it. As well as specific activities such as swimming, jogging and cycling, doing the housework or gardening also count.
Stress can cause cholesterol levels to rise, and increases heart disease risk. Consider different methods of unwinding – for example pilates, yoga, t’aichi or meditation.
How Statins Work
Statins lower cholesterol by slowing down the production of cholesterol produced in the liver and by increasing the liver’s ability to remove the LDL-cholesterol in the blood.
Studies have found natural statins to be effective and well tolerated, even by people who do not tolerate synthetic cholesterol lowering drugs.
Written by Dr Zeeba Sharrif, qualified as a Medical doctor in 1988. In 2002 she obtained her Master’s degree in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey, followed by training in applied Nutrition and Herbalism from the Centre of Nutritional Education.
She is a full member of BANT, NTC, CHNC, The Nutrition Society, Candida Society, Cambridge Nutritional Science and Genova Diagnostics.
British Heart Foundation
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