High total blood cholesterol is a measure of all the cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. If your GP has advised you to change your diet to lower your blood cholesterol, the NHS says you should cut back on saturated fat and eat more fiber, including plenty of fruits and vegetables.
There are two main types of fat, saturated and unsaturated. Eating too many foods that are high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood.
“Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat,” according to the NHS.
The Heart Foundation says eating plant foods will help you get a range of nutrients, healthy fats, and fiber, all of which support optimal heart health.
The organization has described seven foods that can help lower high cholesterol levels.
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“Certain foods can actively help lower your cholesterol, and they all work in different ways. Try to include these foods in your meals whenever you can, ”the site reads.
These include oats and barley, as consuming whole grain foods lowers the risk of heart disease.
Eating “a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits every day” is also recommended, such as those that are high in soluble fiber which helps lower cholesterol absorption. Legumes like chickpeas and lentils are also a good source of soluble fiber.
“Eating lots of foods that contain heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats increases the levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol in your blood,” is also important.
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This includes foods such as avocado, olives, and oily fish like mackerel.
Regular consumption of nuts is linked to lower triglyceride levels, but you should consume nuts that have a skin, are not salted, and are not roasted.
“There is some evidence that regular consumption of soy products may help lower LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides slightly,” adds The Heart Foundation.
He also suggests that foods containing plant sterols as part of a balanced diet may lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.
While some foods are good, the site explains “there isn’t one food that will help lower your cholesterol and it’s important to focus on the quality of your overall diet.”
Along with a healthy diet, an active lifestyle can also help lower your cholesterol levels.
Doing 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week can improve your cholesterol levels, according to the NHS.
“Moderate aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to increase your heart rate and sweat,” he says.
Some people will be offered medications to help lower cholesterol. Statins are drugs that can help lower your cholesterol levels.
You usually need to keep taking statins for life, because if you stop taking them your cholesterol will return to a high level within a few weeks.
Many people who take statins have no or very few side effects.
Nevertheless, the NHS warns that others experience “bothersome” side effects, “such as diarrhea, headaches or nausea”.