High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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High cholesterol is when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. High cholesterol levels can gum up your arteries, cutting off the blood supply to your heart. This mechanism can contribute to heart disease. Finding ways to thwart this mechanism is therefore key to preventing life-threatening complications.
Fortunately, dietary interventions can lower high cholesterol levels.
Specific dietary items have been shown to boast cholesterol-lowering properties.
Research suggests garlic falls into this category.
The medicinal use of garlic dates back thousands of years, but there was little scientific support of its therapeutic and pharmacologic properties until recently.
“In the past decade, the cancer-protective effects of garlic have been well established by epidemiological studies and animal experiments,” wrote researchers in the Journal of Nutrition.
However, as the researchers noted, “the cardiovascular-protective properties of garlic are less well understood”.
“In particular, despite the reported hypocholesterolemic [abnormally high cholesterol levels] effect of garlic, the mechanism of the effect is unclear.”
The researchers sought to advance their understanding of the link between garlic consumption and cholesterol levels.
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In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention study, they showed that aged garlic extract (AGE) supplementation was effective in lowering plasma concentration of total cholesterol by seven percent and LDL cholesterol by 10 percent in hypercholesterolemic men compared with subjects consuming a placebo.
LDL cholesterol is commonly branded the “bad” cholesterol because it collects on the inside of your arteries.
What’s more,Supplementation of AGE in animal diets similarly reduced plasma concentrations of total cholesterol by 15 percent.
According to the researchers, the cholesterol-lowering effects of garlic can be attributed to water-soluble compounds found in the herb that “inhibit” cholesterol synthesis.
Naturally, you cannot rely solely on a single item to reduce high cholesterol levels.
There are several foods which are not just part of a healthy diet, they can actively help to lower your cholesterol too.
According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, cutting down on saturated fat and replacing some of it with unsaturated fats is a great way to lower your cholesterol.
Saturated fats are usually hard at room temperature, such as butter, the fat in meat, and coconut oil.
Foods containing unsaturated fats include:
- vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed, nut and seed oils
- avocado, nuts and seeds
- fat spreads made from vegetable oils, such as sunflower and olive oil
- Oily fish.
“Oily fish are a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, specifically a type called omega-3 fats,” notes Heart UK.
You should aim to eat two portions of fish per week, at least one of which should be oily, adds the charity.
“A portion is 140g, but you could have two or three smaller portions throughout the week.”
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