Keep your heart ticking along nicely with these healthy tips
Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid and is vital for the normal functioning of the body. Having an excessively high level of lipids in your blood can impact your health, however, and although high cholesterol doesn’t usually cause any obvious symptoms, it does increase your risk of serious conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.
A poor diet, particularly one that includes a lot of saturated fats, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and a family history of heart disease can all make you more prone to heart problems and strokes if you have high cholesterol. And, while there are medications that can help to keep it under control, for example statins, a healthy lifestyle is the best form of protection. Here are four simple yet effective ways to lower your cholesterol levels and keep your body in tip-top shape:
1. Fibre first
Not only is fibre beneficial for digestion, but it can also help to lower cholesterol. “Make sure your diet is rich in beans, oats, flaxseed and oatbran as these may reduce your overall blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein (‘bad’ cholesterol),” says Shona Wilkinson, nutritonist from Superfood UK (superfooduk.com). “Studies have also shown that high-fibre foods might offer other heart health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.”
2. Step up
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the most prominent causes of high cholesterol, but luckily it’s also one of the easiest to combat. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help to reduce cholesterol levels – every extra step helps! Try getting off the tube or bus a few stops early and walking the rest of your journey, take a stroll around the park at the weekend or go on a bike ride.
3. Go for garlic
Research has found that garlic can lower cholesterol and help to lessen blood stickiness, thereby keeping blood flowing normally and preventing the formation of clots. If you enjoy a cup of hot water with lemon in the morning, try adding a slice of garlic to up your intake.
4. Something fishy
Omega 3 fatty acids, found in fish like mackerel and salmon, can also reduce abnormal blood clotting. “Omega 3 fish oils have been shown to lower the risk of coronary artery disease and heart attacks,” says Dr Marilyn Grenville, author of Natural Solutions for Dementia and Alzheimer’s. “The anti-inflammatory effect they have is key for preventing heart disease and lowering cholesterol.” Government guidelines recommend eating two portions of oily fish a week.
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