‘I’m a GP – lower your cholesterol by making six simple dietary changes’

Cholesterol isn’t all bad. In fact, our bodies need some of the fatty substance to function properly.

However, having too much cholesterol in your blood can spell bad news for your cardiovascular health. 

If left untreated, the waxy substance can hike your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Dr Bhavini Shah, GP from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, said: “When we talk about ‘high cholesterol’, it means there’s an excess of this fatty substance circulating in our bloodstream.”

Fortunately, the doctor has revealed six simple dietary tweaks that can target this problem with gusto.

1. Choose healthy fats

To slash your cholesterol levels, Dr Shah recommended cutting down on foods packed with saturated fat. 

Groceries rich in this type of fat include the likes of red meat, sausages, pies, full-fat dairy products, and fried foods.

“Instead opt for unsaturated fats such as avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil and oily fish like mackerel and salmon,” the doctor said.

2. Eat more fish

Brimming with omega-3 fatty acids, fish such as salmon and mackerel could help lower your cholesterol levels.

Dr Shah explained that they do this by lowering triglycerides – a type of fat that enters your blood after eating. 

She added: “Some research has suggested that they can help by lowering blood pressure, preventing blood clots, improving circulation and keeping your heart rhythm steady.”

3. Increase fibre intake

Eating more fruits and vegetables, including beans, broccoli and sweet potatoes, will add a boost of fibre into your diet, which can help reduce “bad” cholesterol – the type that puts strain on your cardiovascular system.

4. Avoid processed foods

With high amounts of sugar, salt and fat, ultra-processed foods are no good news for your overall health nor your cholesterol.

Dr Shah said: “Eating too much processed food can potentially increase the risk of obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. If you want to lower your cholesterol you should avoid ultra-processed foods such as microwave and ready meals, cakes and biscuits, cereal, cheese, and bread.”

5. Avoid cholesterol-rich foods

Certain foods, like red meats, egg yolks and whole milk are high in cholesterol, so you should limit your intake of these options. “Instead opt for foods with low-cholesterol such as oats, whole wheat bread, brown rice, and even popcorn,” the doctor said.

Additionally, fruits and berries, including blueberries, strawberries, apples, oranges and grapes are also low in the fatty substance.

6. Watch portion sizes

Lastly, Dr Shah shared it’s crucial to be mindful of portion sizes and avoid overeating, which can contribute to weight gain and higher cholesterol levels.

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