HEART RESEARCH UK HEALTHY HEART TIPS By Dr Helen Flaherty, Head of Health Promotion and Education at Heart Research UK
Improving Your Cholesterol Profile
By Shola Lawanson
There are two main types of cholesterol, LDL, sometimes termed ‘bad’ cholesterol, and HDL, sometimes termed as ‘good cholesterol’. The reality is that we do need some of both types of cholesterol, but the incorrect balance can be harmful. When LDL cholesterol builds up in the arteries, it can contribute to plaque formation, whilst HDL cholesterol removes harmful cholesterol from the bloodstream. With this in mind, here are some tips for creating a healthy cholesterol profile.
Increase Fibre Intake
Fibre, particularly the type found in porridge oats and wholegrains, known as beta-glucan, helps to reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
Diets higher in vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and pulses are healthier for the heart than animal-derived alternatives that are high in saturated fats such as meats, cheeses and processed snacks such as biscuits.
Eat Good Fats
Unsaturated fats, particularly when swapped for saturated fats, can help to increase your HDL cholesterol levels. Excellent sources of good fats include oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, extra virgin olive oil and avocados.
Aerobic exercise such as running or cycling will help to increase levels of HDL in the blood, especially when performed for more than 150 minutes each week.
Avoid high Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol can increase the amount of fat in the blood and lower HDL cholesterol, therefore drinking less than 14 units per week is recommended