The problem with having too much cholesterol in your blood is that it can lead to blocking your blood vessels, causing further problems. High cholesterol is similar to high blood pressure – it doesn’t cause any symptoms and you can only find out from getting it checked. However, there are some lifestyle changes that can help you lower high cholesterol, including one food great for festive snacking.
Foods high in saturated fat can lead to high levels of “bad cholesterol”, which is linked to heart problems and stroke.
However, there are also foods that can be great for your cholesterol and even slash your levels like almonds.
Nuts, in general, are rich in unsaturated fats. Research shows having foods rich in this fat instead of saturated fat can improve your cholesterol, according to Heart UK.
This in return can also cut your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Apart from saturated fats, nuts are also rich in fibre, protein, vitamin E, magnesium and plant sterols.
It’s exactly this nutrient content, which can not only help keep your body healthy but also assist your cholesterol.
For example, plant sterols can lower your levels by as much as 14 percent.
They are naturally found in plant cell membranes, but companies also use them to fortify spreads and dairy products.
However, nuts are a great natural source of these plant compounds.
Plant sterols are similar to your body’s cholesterol, reports Cleveland Clinic.
After you eat them, they compete with cholesterol, which leads to cholesterol absorption getting blocked and consequently lower levels, explains the health portal.
Fibre is another great component of nuts as it can also help block cholesterol from being absorbed from your gut.
Almonds are appointed a good option for helping with cholesterol by both Heart UK and the Mayo clinic.
The heart charity advises eating around 28 to 30 grams of nuts a day, which should be about a handful.
But as nuts are also high in calories, only a handful should be enough, the Mayo Clinic reminds.
Almonds can be added to salads or just eaten as a snack.
The good thing about almonds is they can be filling, making you less likely to snack on other foods.
The charity also reports that cutting down on saturated fats is just as important as incorporating cholesterol-lowering foods into your diet.
If almonds are not your thing, there are other ways to lower your levels including exercise, cutting down on alcohol and quitting smoking.
Some NHS-recommended foods for cutting your levels are oily fish, brown rice, bread and pasta, fruit and vegetables.
If lifestyle changes don’t work for you, you might have to start taking medicine, such as statins, to help with your cholesterol, the NHS reports.