High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Cholesterol is a fatty substance that, if it builds up, can lead to high cholesterol. In many cases, high cholesterol can be fatal if left untreated. While doctors can typically treat the disease with medication, people can also take their health into their own hands with some simple lifestyle changes.
As high cholesterol is often caused by eating certain foods, switching up your diet is one way to help cut cholesterol levels.
This often means eliminating or reducing your intake of certain things, such as alcohol or high-fat foods.
However, according to Lynne Garton, flomax us dietetic adviser at charity HEART UK, there are some easy high-fibre foods that could have a beneficial impact on your health.
According to Ms Garton, the key is incorporating these foods into a balanced diet.
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California walnuts are one of the only tree nuts containing a source of omega-3 ALA which, according to Ms Garton, has been shown to play a crucial role in the “maintenance of normal blood cholesterol level”.
The expert says this small snack has been given the “seal of approval” by HEART UK as a cholesterol benefitting snack.
California walnuts contain around 2g of protein in each serving.
She explained: “Research has also shown ALA to have a beneficial role in the prevention of heart disease and stroke, which high cholesterol can contribute to.
“In addition, EFSA has approved the health claim that a handful of walnuts a day can have a positive effect on the elasticity of the blood vessels – helping to keep the cardiovascular system healthy.”
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Beans are a high-fibre food which, according to Ms Garton, could be extremely helpful in reducing cholesterol.
The expert explains that beans contain certain soluble fibres form a gel-like substance in the gut which can help delay or reduce certain nutrients from being absorbed into your blood, such as sugar and fats – including cholesterol. She explained: “Pulses such as beans, peas and lentils are particularly high in this kind of fibre.”
When aiming for five portions of fruit or vegetables per day, Ms Garton recommends making sure at least one of them is a bean or lentil.
Three tablespoons of beans, peas or lentils are classed as one portion.
Oats and barley are not only a great way of filling up at mealtimes, they are also a great way to boost your fibre intake.
Ms Garton said: “Oats and barley are grains which are rich in a type of fibre called beta glucan.
“Eating 3g of beta-glucan daily, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, can help to lower cholesterol.
“When you eat beta glucan, it forms a gel which binds to cholesterol-rich bile acids in the intestines. As your liver has to take more cholesterol out of your blood to make more bile, this lowers your blood cholesterol.”
The expert recommends aiming for three servings of oat-based products or barley per day.
Some ways you can incorporate oats are barley into your diet include breakfast cereal flakes, porridge or oatcakes.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are key when it comes to a healthy and balanced diet.
Not only are fruits and vegetables rich in important nutrients, but they can also help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke according to Ms Garton.
She explained: “The majority are low in fat and calories and contain vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals which can help you to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight.”
You should aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Portions can include fresh, tinned, frozen or dried fruits and vegetables.
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