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The NHS recommends maintaining cholesterol levels below 5mmol/L. In the UK, however, three out of five adults have a total cholesterol of 5mmol/L or above. Those with high cholesterol levels may have been advised to switch up their diet, as high levels can lead to a number of health issues. Heart UK advises that people eat a variety of healthy sources of protein such as peas, beans, lentils, fish, nuts, chicken and lean red meat.
The organisation explains: “These foods are high in protein and nutrients but low in saturated fat.
“If you eat red meat, make sure it’s lean and watch the quantity. Eat less meat and more plant foods by swapping some meat-based meals for vegetarian options.”
The NHS says: “To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat.
“You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat.”
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Heart UK explains: “Unsaturated fats are more heart-healthy. There are different types of unsaturated fat known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and they do different jobs in the body. It’s good to eat a range of foods so that you get both.
“Unsaturated fats are found in plant foods and oily fish, and they are usually liquid at room temperature.”
The organisation adds: “Like saturated fats, trans fats are bad for our health. They raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol.
“Trans fats are made when unsaturated fats such as vegetable oils are heated to high temperatures during food processing.”
Heart UK advises that about a third of your energy should come from fat. That’s about 70g for a woman and 90g for a man per day.
In terms of diet, the Mayo Clinic says there are a number of other lifestyle changes to adopt.
These include increasing soluble fibre, as it can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream.
It adds: “Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure.”
It says sometimes healthy lifestyle changes are not enough to lower cholesterol levels.
The organisation notes: “If your doctor recommends medication to help lower your cholesterol, take it as prescribed while continuing your lifestyle changes.
“Lifestyle changes can help you keep your medication dose low.” Indeed, statins are taken by a lot of people, in an effort to help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.
The NHS says: “Some types of statin should be taken in the evening. Check with your doctor whether there’s a particular time of day you should take your statin.”
It states: “You usually have to continue taking statins for life because if you stop taking them, your cholesterol will return to a high level within a few weeks.”
The NHS notes a review of scientific studies into the effectiveness of statins found around one in every 50 people who take the medicine for five years will avoid a serious event, such as a heart attack or stroke, as a result. Nonetheless, there are some potential side effects.
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