Dr Chris reveals how eyes can indicate high cholesterol levels
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High cholesterol does not tend to cause symptoms, so you can only find out if you have it from a blood test. If you have been advised to make dietary changes, there are a number of things to consider. We need some cholesterol to stay healthy, though there are some forms which are considered bad for us.
BBC Food notes: “There are some foods that are especially beneficial for heart health, so include these in your diet on a regular basis.”
It says that you should include oily fish up to twice a week in your diet.
“Eat oily fish up to twice a week or more regularly if you have a history of heart problems,” it states.
This is because omega-3 fats found in oily fish “can help lower harmful blood triglycerides”, and include fish such as herring, mackerel, pilchards, sardines, salmon, trout and fresh tuna.
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The Mayo Clinic adds that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your triglycerides, a type of fat found in blood, “as well as reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots”.
It says that in people who have already had heart attacks, omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of sudden death.
The American Heart Association also recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week.
Baking or grilling the fish can avoid adding unhealthy fats, and omega-3 and fish oil supplements are also available.
The NHS says: “To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat.
“You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat.”
The British Dietetic Association says: “Compare labels and choose foods with green or amber labels for ‘saturates’.”
Foods are high, red, in saturated fat if they contain more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g. Foods containing 1.5g or less per 100g are low, green, in saturated fat.
Nonetheless, the site notes: “Some healthy foods that are high in fat like oily fish, nuts and oils, may be red for saturated fat. This is okay, as they contain more of the healthy unsaturated fat.”
Changing what you eat, being more active, and stopping smoking can help get your cholesterol back to a healthy level.
Lastly, the organisation advises eating plenty of fibre. This helps lower your risk of heart disease and some high fibre foods can help lower your cholesterol.
To make sure you get enough fibre, it says you should aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, switch to whole grain varieties of bread, cereals, pasta and rice, and choose other high fibre foods such as pulses.
You might need medicine to lower your cholesterol if your cholesterol level has not gone down after changing your diet and lifestyle.
You may also need medicine if you’re at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, according to the NHS.
Statins are the most common medicine for high cholesterol, according to the health service. They work by reducing the amount of cholesterol your body makes.
The NHS says: “Like all medicines, statins can cause side effects. But most people tolerate them well and do not have any problems.”
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