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Managing high cholesterol with smart food choices : A guide to eating for heart health


Do you ever feel that high cholesterol might be a health concern of yours?

High cholesterol is defined as having too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol present in your blood. This can be dangerous and quite a serious health condition, contributing to blocked blood vessels and various heart complications [1].


What lifestyle choices may impact having high cholesterol?


- Low levels of exercise

- Eating fatty food, often

- Smoking

- Drinking alcohol, often

- Being overweight / obese


High cholesterol can also be genetic, meaning it may run in family genes. This is called familial hypercholesterolemia. This can be managed, especially if the family is aware of the risk and how to prevent and reduce it [2]. If cholesterol is particularly high, medication may be suggested to further help reduce risk.



How to manage high cholesterol- practical tips & effective solutions


1) Modify your diet

Diet plays a crucial role in managing high cholesterol, therefore it's essential to cut back on saturated and trans fats that raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Instead, opt for foods rich in unsaturated fats such as nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. Make sure you’re also consuming a variety of fruit and vegetables, as well as whole grains. This is because these foods are high in fibre, which can help in reducing cholesterol absorption [3].



good and bad fats
Healthy and unhealthy fats


2) Exercise regularly

Regular exercise is a vital factor to manage high cholesterol levels. This is because exercise can help increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels, whilst reducing bad cholesterol levels. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate- intensity exercise per week. This could be anything from a brisk walk to a run or bike ride, just make sure to get moving [4]!


3) Maintain a healthy weight

If you are struggling with being overweight or obese, unfortunately this can increase your risk of developing high levels of bad cholesterol. With help of a qualified dietitian, you can lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way. In turn this will reduce cholesterol levels [5].


4) Quit smoking

If you smoke, it can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of developing heart disease. Quitting smoking can help improve your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of developing heart disease [6].



5) If recommended, take medications

In more severe cases, lifestyle changes alone may not be enough to manage high cholesterol levels. Your doctor may prescribe medications such as statins, bile acid sequestrants, or PCSK9 inhibitors to help lower your cholesterol levels. It's important to take these medications as prescribed by your doctor and to monitor your cholesterol levels regularly [7].



If high cholesterol is something you are worried about, here are a few healthy and balanced meal ideas with low levels of cholesterol to think about adding into your diet.

Healthy meals for reducing cholesterol


- Grilled salmon with sweet potato mash & broccoli: Grilled salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help improve cholesterol levels [8]. Combine it with sweet potato as a slow-release carbohydrate source and broccoli for some micronutrients for a healthy and hearty meal.


- Baked chicken with herbs and lemon: Chicken is a lean protein source that can be baked with herbs and lemon to add flavour without adding extra fat.


- Quinoa and vegetable stir-fry: Quinoa is a high-protein grain that can be paired with a variety of vegetables for a nutritious and cholesterol-friendly meal.


- Lentil and vegetable soup: Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein and can be combined with a variety of vegetables to make a delicious soup that is high in fibre and low in cholesterol.


- Roasted vegetable and chickpea salad: Roasted vegetables and chickpeas can be combined to make a filling and nutritious salad that is rich in fibre and protein.


At Nutrition and Co, we can help you manage high cholesterol levels through individualised nutritional advice.


Your initial consultation will be 60 minutes long, and you will meet a dietitian assigned directly to you in order to discuss your goals and lifestyle, along with any present symptoms.


Following consultation, you will be provided with a personalised meal guide with further advice specific to your situation.


If you would like to find out more or book a 1-1 zoom consultation, please visit www.nutritionandco.co.uk . For other inquiries, please email via info@nutritionandco.co.uk.



References

[1] Subczynski, W.K., Pasenkiewicz-Gierula, M., Widomska, J., Mainali, L. and Raguz, M., (2017) High cholesterol/low cholesterol: Effects in biological membranes Review. Cell biochemistry and biophysics, [online] 753-4, pp.369–385. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5645210/ [2] Weissglas-Volkov, D. and Pajukanta, P., (2010) Genetic causes of high and low serum HDL-cholesterol. Journal of Lipid Research, [online] 518, pp.2032–2057. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903789/ [Accessed 21 Mar. 2023]. [3] Grundy, S.M., (2016) Does Dietary Cholesterol Matter? Current Atherosclerosis Reports, 1811.

[4] Mann, S., Beedie, C. and Jimenez, A., (2013) Differential Effects of Aerobic Exercise, Resistance Training and Combined Exercise Modalities on Cholesterol and the Lipid Profile: Review, Synthesis and Recommendations. Sports Medicine, [online] 442, pp.211–221.

[5] Ma, H., Aziz, K.S., Huang, R. and Abela, G.S., (2006) Arterial wall cholesterol content is a predictor of development and severity of arterial thrombosis. Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis, 221, pp.5–11.

[6] Garrison, R.J., Kannel, W.B., Feinleib, M., Castelli, W.P., McNamara, P.M. and Padgett, S.J., (1978) Cigarette smoking and HDL cholesterol the Framingham offspring study. Atherosclerosis, 301, pp.17–25. [7] Kuklina, E.V., Carroll, M.D., Shaw, K.M. and Hirsch, R., (2013) Trends in High LDL Cholesterol, Cholesterol-lowering Medication Use, and Dietary Saturated-fat Intake: United States, 1976–2010. NCHS data brief, [online] 117, pp.1–8. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4401469/ [Accessed 21 Mar. 2023].

[8] Jensen, I.J., Maehre, H.K., Tømmerås, S., Eilertsen, K.E., Olsen, R.L. and Elvevoll, E.O., (2012) Farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) is a good source of long chain omega-3 fatty acids. Nutrition Bulletin, 371, pp.25–29.

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