Heart health tips for National Cholesterol Month this October
Want to lower your cholesterol and maintain a healthy heart? Check out these 10 simple steps
There are many reasons people develop high cholesterol, such as genes and gender, but the main reason for the condition is down to diet and lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle can help prevent the development of high cholesterol or even a stroke.
A few small changes can make all the difference to lowering your cholesterol and in turn will lower your risk of heart disease.
Here are our top 10 tips:
1. Don’t get tempted by foods claiming “low fats”. A lot of foods claim to be “low fat”, but this means the product contains 3 grams of fat or less per serving but is often filled with sugars to replace the fat content. Be sure to check the serving size against the fats content and account for the extra fats and calories consumed if you are eating more than one serving.
2. Eat a healthy amount of fibre. Research suggests that increasing your intake of fibre by 5 to 10 grams each day may result in a 5 percent drop in LDL cholesterol. Starting the day with a breakfast such as porridge or muesli, eating vegetables with dinner and snacking on fruits will help you meet your target of fibre intake.
3. Start the day right with a good hearty breakfast. Choose a hot breakfast such as porridge or a cold one such as oatmeal. Add a banana or other fruit and seeds to help boost your fibre intake even further.
4. Add fish to your diet and have meat free days. It’s been shown that countries with high fish consumption have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Fish contains essential fatty acids known as omega-3s and omega-6s, just like nuts. Our bodies are unable to make these omega fats and so it is important to eat foods which contain them.
5. Avoid palm and coconut oils in foods and when cooking. A lot of vegetable oils are unsaturated but palm and coconut oils contain the most saturated fats. Choose oils such as canola, sunflower, corn and olive oils when cooking or making foods.
6. Reduce your salt intake. Diets high in salt increase risk of hypertension and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Use nutrition labels on food to check the amount of salt in the food. Adults should have no more than 6g of salt a day so try and cut down wherever you can.
7. Drink alcohol in moderation. Regular, moderate alcohol intake can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease but heavy drinking negates the benefits. Reducing or moderating your alcohol intake will make you a happier and healthier person and, most importantly, help your heart.
8. Stop smoking – If you smoke, then quit! Smoking magnifies the dangers of cholesterol and conditions associated with it such as high blood pressure. Smoking causes inflammation, throughout your entire body, but particularly your lungs and can contribute to the risk of a heart attack.
9. More exercise – Exercising as part of a healthy lifestyle is a great way to stay fit and healthy and even moderate exercise can help improve cholesterol. The British Heart Foundation recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking or jogging, every week.
10. Plant sterols have also been scientifically proven to help maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. Food supplements such as Lestrin™ contain Beta-sitosterol, a naturally occurring plant sterol work by blocking the absorption of dietary cholesterol into the blood stream. Taking Lestrin™ everyday can help maintain normal blood cholesterol level when taken in addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle, and allows you to take control of your future heart health.