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         Reducing cholesterol level

How can physical activity help improve my cholesterol level?
Doing regular physical activity – for example, brisk walking or cycling – for 30 minutes a day on at least five days a week can help improve your cholesterol level. You can do the 30 minutes all in one go, or in shorter bouts of at least 10 minutes a time. Being active can increase the level of HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol).

It can also help lower your blood pressure, help you to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of getting diabetes. To get the most benefit, you need to be active enough to make you feel warm and slightly puffed but still able to have a conversation. It’s important to build up gradually the amount of activity that you do.

Here are some examples of how you can start to include physical activity in your daily routine.

Walk rather than use the vehicle.
Get off the bus or train a stop early and walk the rest of the way.
Climb the stairs rather than use the lift.

How can healthy eating help improve my cholesterol level?
Eating a healthy diet can help reduce your cholesterol levels by over 10%.8 However, some people find that healthy eating can have a greater effect on their cholesterol level than other people.

Choosing healthier fats
Foods containing fat are made up of a combination of saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.

To help improve your cholesterol level you need to do the following.

Cut right down on saturated fats and replace them with monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
Reduce the total amount of fat you eat – especially if you are overweight. (This is because fat is also very high in calories.) For example, cut down on foods such as pastries, crisps and biscuits, and replace them with healthier alternatives such as fruit or vegetables. Or, at mealtimes, cut down on the amount of fatty foods you eat by filling up with starchy foods such as bread, pasta or rice instead – particularly the wholegrain versions of these foods.

Cut down on foods containing trans fats. This means cutting down on processed foods such as cakes, biscuits and pastries.

• Eat oily fish regularly. Oily fish provide the richest source of a particular type of polyunsaturated fat known as omega-3 fats that can help to lower blood triglyceride levels, help prevent the blood from clotting, and help to regulate the heart rhythm.

How do the different types of fat in foods affect my
cholesterol levels?

Saturated fats can increase total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol increases the risk of fatty deposits developing in your arteries.

Monounsaturated fats can lower the LDL level and do not lower the level of HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol).

Polyunsaturated fats are an essential part of the diet. They can help lower LDL cholesterol (which is a good effect), but they also lower HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol).

Oily fish contains a particular type of polyunsaturated fat called omega-3 fats. These can help to reduce triglyceride levels in the blood.

Other ways to improve your cholesterol levels
Eating a high-fibre diet

Eating foods that are high in ‘soluble fibre’ – such as porridge, beans, pulses, lentils, nuts, fruits and vegetables – can help lower cholesterol. A high-fibre diet also helps to fill you up – making you less likely to snack on fattening foods.

What about the cholesterol found in foods?
The cholesterol found in some foods – for example eggs, liver and kidneys, and some types of seafood such as prawns – does not usually make a great contribution to the level of cholesterol in your blood. If you need to reduce your cholesterol level, it is much more important that you eat foods that are low in saturated fat.

Will eating sterol-enriched foods help reduce my cholesterol level?
There is evidence that substances called ‘plant sterols’ and ‘stanols’ – which are added to certain foods including margarines, spreads, soft cheeses and yogurts – may reduce blood cholesterol levels. They may be helpful for people who cannot take cholesterol-lowering drugs, or for those who still have high cholesterol levels even though they have already made changes to their diet. They can also be taken with cholesterol-lowering drugs.

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