How to lower your cholesterol (and still eat tasty food)
How's your cholesterol?
You can't sleep because you've got heart burn. You get out of breath walking up a few stairs. You suffer chest pains. You have no energy whatsoever. Do any of these sound familiar?
If they do, you might want to look into why. Visiting your GP and finding out whether you have high cholesterol is your first step. There are no symptoms as such, but there are tell-tale signs your body is struggling more than it should be. Did you know that Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in the UK and worldwide? Too much cholesterol in your blood can increase your risk of heart disease as well as other cardiovascular diseases.
So how can you reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease? Read this blog to get some quick, easy tips on altering what you eat. Your healthier life starts here!
Eat right for your body [cholesterol and food]
Many of our diets include staggering amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and triglycerides. Fast-food, sugary fizzy drinks, and cream to name a few, contain these. If your diet is centred on them, then it's likely you have a higher level of LDL - or bad cholesterol.
For years eggs were thought to increase the risk of heart disease by raising cholesterol levels. The cholesterol charity Heart UK reports that cutting down on eggs isn't the answer for most people, but eating less saturated fat is.
Not all cholesterol is bad - there are good types of cholesterol too. Eggs for instance are high in HDL cholesterol - or 'good' cholesterol - and they have almost no effect on blood cholesterol levels compared to saturated and trans fat. If you're eating a varied and healthy diet and your LDL cholesterol isn't high, there should be no reason to avoid them. So, we should think again about avoiding eggs and tuck-in to some healthy egg recipes.
The science behind junk food: How does what you eat affect your cholesterol?
Some foods can raise your blood cholesterol, others can lower it. If you're eating a lot of fast-food for example, cholesterol builds up in the arteries, causing a form of heart disease. As a result the arteries become narrow, causing the blood flow to the heart to slow right down. If cholesterol levels become so high that the blood flow is blocked, a heart attack occurs.
Tip: How to jazz things up
Some foods have more flavour than others. Sometimes it depends on how you cook them and what you cook them with. Is bland boiled broccoli boring? If it is, then see what stir frying in a little groundnut oil does to it instead. There are so many ways to enhance food without inviting it to a cholesterol party. Herbs, spices, and lemon juice are your beloved friends here. Are your onions sticking to the pan? Instead of oil, you could just add a drop of water.
Discover what you've been missing out on!
What to avoid:
Resist foods high in saturated fat, trans fats, and triglycerides:
- Donuts, cakes, biscuits
- Sugary fizzy drinks
- Pies and pastries
- Fatty meat like bacon and pork scratchings
- Butter, lard, margarine
What to eat:
Switch your diet to these kinds of food and you should be able to notice a real difference in your cholesterol levels.
The most effective foods in reducing cholesterol are those rich in fibre:
- Whole-grain breads and cereals
- Porridge oats
- Citrus fruits and apples
- Dried fruits
- Avocados, walnuts, olive oil, canola oil
- Pulses, like kidney beans and cannellini beans
- Fish - especially mackerel and salmon
Tuck-in to a happier life
Making sure you only have healthier food around the house is a good habit to get into. If the donuts aren't there, you can't eat them! Unsalted snacks like cashew nuts, dried fruit, and seeds can hold off the rumbles for a while. Drinking more fluid can too. Try adding a bunch of mint and shards of cucumber to chilled water for a refreshing, healthier drink. Add a chunk of root ginger to hot water for a brew that will warm you to the tips of your fingers and toes.
Are you 40-74 years old?
If so, make sure you have your NHS Health Check to understand what's going on inside your body. The health check tests cholesterol, blood pressure, Body Mass Index (BMI), and diabetes risk. If you're younger than 40, there are other health check options available. More than half of all UK adults have raised cholesterol. How's yours?