High cholesterol means you have too much cholesterol in your blood. Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver. It performs many important roles in the body, such as helping your body make cell membranes, many hormones, and vitamin D. However, excessive amounts of cholesterol can clog up your arteries, thereby hiking your risk of heart disease.
You can lower high cholesterol levels by leading a healthy lifestyle. There are several foods which are not just part of a healthy diet, they can actively help to lower your cholesterol too.
The most important dietary tip is to cut down on saturated fat, which is found in fatty cuts of meat and meat products, including sausages and pies.
According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, swapping saturated fat for unsaturated fat is key to lowering high cholesterol.
Sources of unsaturated fat include:
- Vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed, nut and seed oils
- Avocado, nuts and seeds
- Fat spreads made from vegetable oils, such as sunflower and olive oil
- Oily fish.
“Oily fish are a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, specifically a type called omega-3 fats,” explains Heart UK.
“Aim to eat two portions of fish per week, at least one of which should be oily.”
Other key tips
Regular exercise can also lead to a marked reduction in high cholesterol levels.
According to the Mayo Clinic, moderate physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol picks up “bad” cholesterol from the blood and transports it to the liver where it is flushed out.
“With your doctor’s okay, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week,” advises the Mayo Clinic.
Vigorous intensity activity makes you breathe hard and fast. If you’re working at this level, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.
“In general, 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity,” notes the NHS.