High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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High cholesterol is a condition characterised by the presence of fatty molecules that accumulate on the walls of the arteries, forming plaque. As plaque increases over time, so does the risk of blockages in the arteries that can cause a heart attack or stroke. One warm drink has shown promise at lowering cholesterol levels in the blood, acting as a buffer against the risk of life-threatening disease.
When LDL or “bad” cholesterol builds on the walls of the arteries, inflammatory substances are released in the body which can hike the risk of a heart attack.
Certain teas, such as green tea, may counteract these effects by helping lower cholesterol in the blood, thanks to a compound known as catechin.
The cholesterol-lowering effects of green tea have been widely studied, with many yielding positive results.
Both human studies have suggested dietary intake of green tea beverages or extract can significantly lower cholesterol concentration.
READ MORE: High cholesterol WARNING – The four biggest risk factors for high cholesterol
The European Food Safety Authority, however, denies such health claims on the grounds that changes in cholesterol levels are not clinically significant.
One meta-analysis from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that green tea lowers bad cholesterol in the blood while leaving HDL cholesterol intact.
The researchers wrote: “Green tea lowers LDL cholesterol, but not HDL cholesterol or triglycerides in both normal weight and overweight individuals.”
Cholesterol is carried in the blood by two different types of protein HDL, often labelled “good” cholesterol, because it helps rid the body of “bad” or LDL cholesterol.
As a general guide, the NHS recommends that total cholesterol levels should be 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults.
In the UK, three out of five adults have total cholesterol levels of 5mmol/L.
The NHS says: “[High cholesterol] is mainly caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol.
“You can lower your cholesterol by eating healthily and getting more exercise. Some people also need to take medicine.”
It is estimated roughly two in five British adults have high cholesterol, and the risk of the condition increases with age.
Doctors say watching your waistline, and alcohol intake, are key factors in managing the condition.
According to a recent study, certain nuts, such as pecans and walnuts, can also help your cholesterol profile.
Experts recommend going to your GP to have your cholesterol levels checked regularly, as opposed to getting a DIY test.
Joanne Whitmore, the senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “[High cholesterol] is a hidden risk factor, which means it happens without us knowing until it’s too late.”
Around seven to eight million adults take statins to manage their condition, which works by disturbing cholesterol production in the liver.
Some side effects linked to the drug, such as muscle pain, put many people off the life-saving drug.
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