Follow these cholesterol reducing tips and you'll live a longer, healthier life
1. Eat the right kind of fat to reduce cholestrol
Foods high in monounsaturated fats, such as almonds and avocados, will boost HDL. Almonds are 70 per cent monounsaturated fat and also contain two powerful antioxidants: vitamin E and flavonoids, which prevent the oxidation of LDL. Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as salmon and flaxseeds, also have a good HDL-raising reputation.
2. Avoid coffee to reduce cholestrol
Caffeine junkies should note that downing three to six cups a day will raise your cholesterol by eight to ten per cent, according to a US National Institutes of Health study. The report also found that coffee drinkers experienced an 18 per cent rise in their fatty acids in the blood, the stuff that drives the production of bad cholesterol.
3. Choose low-GI carbs to reduce cholestrol
People on high-carbohydrate diets crammed with pasta and bread tend to have lower HDL levels than those who eat plenty of protein, good fats and fruit and veg. Switching to carbs with a low glycaemic index (GI) rating such as beans and wholemeal bread will also help you keep your energy levels stable and lose weight.
4. Jump around to reduce cholestrol
Working out raises your levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), commonly known as 'good cholesterol'. HDL is the stuff that takes cholesterol away from cells - where high levels can increase the risk of coronary heart disease - and back to the liver, where it's either broken down or excreted. But this doesn't mean you need to run marathons. Studies have found that your HDL levels will increase by doing just four moderate 30-minute sessions of aerobic exercise a week.
5. Lose your gut to reduce cholestrol
Here's another reason to banish the belly: being overweight raises total blood cholesterol levels. Not only will carrying extra inches around your waist throw your cholesterol levels out of balance, but it will also raise levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or 'bad cholesterol' - the harmful kind that allows cholesterol to clog blood vessels.
6. Know your levels to reduce cholestrol
The Department of Health's guidelines state that your total cholesterol should be less than 5 millimoles per litre (mmol/l) and your LDL cholesterol should be less than 3mmol/l. Home-testing kits are available but are usually inconclusive, so if you take one and the reading is high you should make an appointment to see your GP. He or she can arrange a blood test, which will diagnose your blood cholesterol levels and, if necessary, test for conditions that can be responsible for raising cholesterol, such as an underactive thyroid, diabetes and kidney and liver problems.
7. Stop smoking to reduce cholestrol
Along with all its other effects, smoking lowers HDL levels. So if you're fond of the odd fag, stubbing it out is the simplest way to give your good cholesterol a lift.
8. Keep calm to reduce cholestrol
Men who are able to keep calm when confronted with stressful situations benefit from increased levels of good cholesterol. Researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Hawaii found that people who reacted to stressful situations with hostility had lower HDL levels than those who were able to control their aggression.
9. Avoid saturated fat to reduce cholestrol
Cut back on foods that are rich in saturated and trans fats, because these stimulate the liver to produce extra cholesterol. The liver usually produces about 1g of cholesterol a day, but this can be multiplied by the consumption of foods such as fatty cuts of meat, ready meals, puddings, biscuits, cakes, pies and pastries.
10. Eat lots of fibre to reduce cholestrol
The type of soluble fibre found in oats, apples, pears, peas and kidney beans among other foods can slow cholesterol and raise HDL levels. Eating foods such as these also helps to keep your gut feeling satisfied, which can help you lose weight. A bowl of wholegrain cereal or porridge with berries is a good way to start to the day.