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How to lower cholesterol: The best way to start reducing cholesterol levels explained

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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If you’ve been told by your GP that you have elevated cholesterol, it’s time to take action. In fact, even before such a diagnosis, it would be wise to keep cholesterol levels to a minimum. How can this be achieved? The classic combination of a healthy diet and exercise are the best things to do, but where should you start? According to a major analysis, cited by Harvard Health, hundreds of men and women successfully reduced cholesterol levels in controlled trials.

This was achieved by “dietary changes”, which isn’t a shocker, but there was a surprising finding.

Those who exercised more, but didn’t change their dietary habits, didn’t benefit from reduced cholesterol levels.

Such a striking finding suggests that the best way to start reducing cholesterol levels is to tweak your diet.

The people in the studies followed a variety of diets, from Mediterranean to low-fat and low-calorie meal plans.

However, the most effective diets were the ones where high cholesterol foods were replaced with healthier alternatives.

The director of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Kathy McManus, commented on the subject matter.

“You don’t have to follow an all-or-nothing approach,” she said, detailing how to start reducing cholesterol levels today.

Firstly, you need to identify all the trans fats you’re eating and make substitutions.

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What are trans fats?

Trans fats are created by adding hydrogen to a liquid fat to help it solidify.

It’s a popular preservation method as it can extend the shelf life of packaged baked goods.

Any nutrition label that lists “partially hydrogenated” on its label is better left on the supermarket shelf – and not in your home.

The Mayo Clinic listed foods that contain trans fats, such as:

  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pies
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Frozen pizza
  • Biscuits
  • Doughnuts
  • Fried chicken
  • French fries

Substitute trans fats for “polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats” advised McManus.

This includes cooking with canola, safflower, sunflower, olive, grapeseed and peanut oils.

Instead of pies or a frozen pizza, choose fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, trout, herring, or mackerel.

In place of biscuits, doughnuts, or cookies, opt for seeds or nuts – and avocados and soybeans are also considered good fats that you can add into your diet.

Fruits and vegetables will be your best go-to options as they contain elements that actively help to reduce cholesterol, such as:

  • Stanols
  • Sterols

The NHS recommends everybody to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily, but the more the better.

Another useful tip is to choose wholegrain options when it comes to pasta, rice and bread.

These are great sources of fibre, which is another great tool to help reduce cholesterol levels.

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