It is estimated that close to half of adults in the UK currently have cholesterol higher than the levels currently recommended by the government (that’s a total blood cholesterol level of less than 5mmol/L)1.
With high cholesterol being one of the known risk factors for developing heart disease and a risk factor for strokes,2 what can we do to help reduce it and keep it under control?
AXA Health's Senior Physiologist, Raj Kundhi explores what cholesterol is and share her tips for different foods than can help lower your levels and keep it in check.
What is cholesterol?
You may have come across the term ‘high cholesterol’ or know someone who has it, but cholesterol itself is “a type of blood fat which is made in the liver. It’s found in some foods too. We all need some cholesterol in our bodies just to keep us ticking over, but having too much can clog up your arteries and lead to health problems”.3
British Heart Foundation describe cholesterol as “a natural fatty substance in your blood”4 but there are factors that can increase it which means it then can become a health issue. Eating too much fatty food, lack of exercise, being overweight, as well as smoking or drinking, can all cause high cholesterol.
How can we reduce our cholesterol?
There are lifestyle changes we can make to keep our cholesterol levels in check and also help reduce it, if you’ve been tested and confirmed as having high cholesterol.
Exercising – aim to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week. Those who are inactive run a higher risk of developing higher cholesterol levels than those who undertake regular exercise. Find an activity you enjoy and reap the benefits.
Read more: Become active your way
Smoking – try and give up smoking as this can “cause tar to build up in your arteries, making it easier for cholesterol to stick to your artery walls”.5
Avoid fatty foods – be cautious of foods that contain too much saturated fat, for example fatty meats like sausages and mince, as well as processed foods like cakes and biscuits. Reducing the amount we eat of these types of foods, helps our liver’s ability to remove cholesterol.