Cholesterol, a fatty substance produced naturally in the liver, helps the body to function because every cell uses it. Not all cholesterol is healthy, however. LDL cholesterol, commonly known as “bad” cholesterol, sticks to the inside walls of the blood vessels. This clogs them up and narrows the arteries which supply blood to the heart, a mechanism which increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
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HDL cholesterol is the healthy kind that counters this harmful process.
HDL cholesterol picks up LDL cholesterol and transports it back to the liver where it is flushed out of the body.
Research shows that certain foods reduce LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol so including it in your diet can keep the harmful substance at bay.
Honey, for example, has been shown to achieve this balancing act.
One study in 55 patients compared honey to table sugar and found that honey caused a 5.8 percent reduction in LDL and a 3.3 per cent increase in HDL cholesterol.
The benefits could be attributed to the antioxidants found in honey.
Antioxidants are molecules that are thought provide several heart-protecting benefits, including reducing LDL cholesterol.
Furthermore, one study in rats showed that honey protected the heart from oxidative stress.
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Oxidative stress is a natural process whereby unstable molecules called free radicals damage cells in the body.
Other tips to lower high cholesterol
According to the NHS, to reduce your cholesterol, cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
- Meat pies, sausages and fatty meat
- Butter, lard and ghee
- Cream and hard cheese, like cheddar
- Cakes and biscuits
- Food that contains coconut oil or palm oil
“You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat,” explains the NHS.
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Rich sources of unsaturated fat include:
- Oily fish, like mackerel and salmon
- Brown rice, bread and pasta
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruits and vegetables
An active lifestyle can also help lower your cholesterol level.
“Activities can range from walking and cycling to more vigorous exercise, such as running and energetic dancing,” explains the NHS.
According to the health site, doing 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week can improve your cholesterol levels.
“Moderate aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat,” notes the health body.
One way to tell whether you’re exercising at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but cannot sing the words to a song, it says.
Statins are medicines that can also help lower your cholesterol.
“They’re usually offered to people who have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease or another cardiovascular disease, or whose personal or family medical history suggests they’re likely to develop it during the next 10 years,” explains the NHS.
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