Cholesterol is a sneaky assassin because it discreetly raises your risk of heart disease, an umbrella term for conditions that narrow or block blood vessels. Specifically, LDL – also known as the “bad” cholesterol – performs this deadly function. It does this by causing the build-up of fatty deposits within your arteries, thereby reducing or blocking the flow of blood and oxygen your heart needs. If your arteries become fully blocked, you could have a heart attack.
- High cholesterol: Food type which lowers levels
It is therefore imperative to lower high cholesterol to halt this harmful process.
Diet offers one of the most effective countermeasures, with specific items shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
A cholesterol lowering champion is orange juice.
One study in 129 people found that long-term orange juice consumption lowered levels of both total and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Total Cholesterol is a measure of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and other lipids (fat-like substances).
HDL cholesterol is dubbed the “good” cholesterol because it counters the harmful effects of LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk of heart disease.
It does this by picking up LDL cholesterol from your arteries and transporting it to your liver where it is flushed out.
Orange juice has been shown to increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol in people with elevated levels.
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What’s more, drinking orange juice has been shown to reduce another risk factor for heart disease – high blood pressure.
A review of 19 studies noted that drinking fruit juice was effective at decreasing diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a blood pressure reading) in adults.
What to avoid
High cholesterol is strongly tied to unhealthy lifestyle decisions so it is important to curb unhealthy habits, such as smoking.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) explains: “Smoking can lead to high cholesterol levels, and the build-up of tar it causes in your arteries makes it easier for cholesterol to stick to your artery walls.”
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Another essential tip is to drastically cut back on eating saturated fat.
As cholesterol charity Heart UK explains, many foods contain saturated fat.
“They’re found in animal foods, such as meat, butter and other dairy products, and foods that are made with them, such as cakes and biscuits,” says the charity.
You should avoid food containing saturated fats, because these will increase the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood.
Cutting down on foods high in saturated fat and replacing them with foods with more unsaturated fat can help improve cholesterol levels, however, Heart UK points out.
It recommends healthy spreads, oily fish, nuts, seeds and cooking and salad oils.
In fact, most of these items can be found in a Mediterranean-style diet.
“Research into this style of eating has shown a reduced risk of developing problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and raised cholesterol, which are all risk factors for heart disease,” explains the BHF.
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