October is National Cholesterol Month, an entire month devoted to raising awareness of the dangers of high cholesterol and I think it’s important for locals to lower their cholesterol. Especially, because the North East has one of the highest cardiovascular death rates in the UK.
A lot of people hear the word cholesterol but don’t know that it’s vital for the normal functioning of the body. However, having excessively high level of cholesterol in your blood can have a negative effect on your health.
It can increase the risk of having a heart attack, stroke or mini stroke. Cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, restricting the blood flow to your heart and brain and increases the risk of a blood clot developing somewhere in your body.
The first step in reducing your cholesterol is to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fibre, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.
These foods can help lower cholesterol:
1. Oats. An easy first step to improving your cholesterol is having a bowl of porridge or a cold oat-based breakfast like overnight oats. Make sure you use wholegrain rolled oats to get soluble fibre. Add a banana or some strawberries for another.
2. Barley and other whole grains. Like oats, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fibre they deliver.
3. Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fibre. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. So, they are great for weight loss too. The best options are kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans and pinto beans.
4. Nuts. Eating almonds, walnuts, cashews, and other unsalted nuts is good for the heart. Eating 50 grams of nuts a day can lower LDL.
5. Healthy Oils. Using olive oil and coconut oil in place of butter or lard when cooking helps lower LDL.
6. Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.
7. Soy. Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, is a good way to lower cholesterol. Consuming 25 grams of soy protein, or 500ml soy milk a day can lower LDL by 5% to 6%.
8. Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats.