Raymond Prats: Cholesterol caution

LAST UPDATED: 18 Oct, 2012 @ 19:34
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Raymond Prats: Cholesterol caution

By Raymond Prats

WE may associate cholesterol with fatty foods, but our livers are responsible for producing 75% of it, compared to just 25% that comes from food.

At normal levels, cholesterol actually plays an important role in helping cells do their jobs, but cholesterol levels are precariously high in many people.

High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

This is because too much cholesterol can lead to a buildup of plaque inside the arteries, which narrows the space available for blood flow.

It has also been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

But the good news is that high cholesterol is simple to detect and there are many ways to help reduce it.

People older than 20 should have their cholesterol checked at least once every five years, which is done with a simple blood test known as a fasting lipoprotein profile.

There exists both ‘bad’ cholesterol and ‘good’ cholesterol.

The bad is caused by a diet high in saturated fats, while good cholesterol can be increased by eating healthy fats such as olive oil.

Family history is also an important factor in whether or not you have high cholesterol, with some people inheriting genes that trigger the production of too much cholesterol.

Here are some ways in which you can help lower your cholesterol:

Low-carb diet

There’s growing evidence that low-carb diets may be better than low-fat diets for improving cholesterol levels.

In a two-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health, people who followed a low-carb plan had significantly better good cholesterol levels than those who followed a low-fat plan.

Lose weight

If you’re overweight, talk to your doctor about beginning a weight loss program. Shedding just a few pounds can help boost your good cholesterol level.

Quit smoking

When you stop smoking, your good cholesterol is likely to improve by as much as 10%. Speak to your doctor about the best options to help you quit.

Exercise

Regular exercise lowers bad cholesterol and starting an aerobic exercise program could increase your good cholesterol by 5% in the first two months.

Eat more fibre

Diet changes offer a powerful way to fight high cholesterol. If you’ve ever wondered why some cereals claim to be heart-healthy, it’s the fibre. The soluble fibre found in many foods helps reduce bad cholesterol.

For more information visit www.simplecarehealthplan.com

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