High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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High cholesterol is a pernicious condition characterised by high levels of lipids circulating in the blood. These molecules are gradually deposited in the arterial walls, leading to the formation of plaque that prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart and brain. At this stage, signs of long-standing “bad” cholesterol may arise in different parts of the body, including the face.
High cholesterol can be difficult to pick up in the initial stages due to a lack of symptoms.
So getting levels checked regularly with blood tests offers the best chances of picking up the condition.
This is important, because early detection could substantially lower the odds of complications down the line.
The main dangers of high cholesterol lay in its ability to gradually narrow arteries , depriving key organs of the vital nutrients they need to function properly.
The longer it is left untreated, the greater the risk of atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attack.
“Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on your artery walls. This buildup is called plaque,” explains the Mayo Clinic.
The plaque can cause your arteries to narrow, blocking blood flow.”
Droopy muscles in the face could be a warning sign that blood is struggling to reach the face.
The health body continues: “If you have atherosclerosis in the arteries leading to your brain, you may have signs and symptoms such as sudden numbers or weakness in your arms or leg, difficulty speaking or slurred speed.”
“[…]Temporary loss of vision in one eye, or drooping muscles in your face,” may also be signs.
These symptoms are typically indicative of marked narrowing of the arteries and should serve as a warning that a stroke could be imminent.
Prompt treatment could help curtail the risk of permanent disability or death.
The legs are a well known site for complications associated with narrowed arteries, as the muscles in the calves require larger volumes of oxygen due for physical exertion.
How to avoid high cholesterol
The risk of high cholesterol increases with age, but levels in the general population are high due to the emphasis on saturated fat in western diets.
This fat is absorbed in the intestine and transported to the liver, where it is converted into two different types of cholesterol.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is the “bad” type, and high-density lipoprotein, which is the “good type”, make up total cholesterol levels when combined.
Foods high in soluble fibre are particularly good for managing high cholesterol levels because they bind to fatty molecules in the digestive tract and drag them out of the body.
Diets which emphasise oats, almonds, soy and plant sterols may also significantly lower high cholesterol.
This is because they implement mechanisms that prevent cholesterol from being reabsorbed into the gut, or inhibit cholesterol synthesis in the liver.
There is much evidence strengthening the case for personalising nutrition to combat high cholesterol.
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