Why cholesterol is bad for you
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Having high cholesterol levels could be potentially fatal. It occurs when you have too much of a fatty substance known as cholesterol in your blood. If not treated it can lead to serious health issues such as heart problems and strokes.
The condition is usually a result of certain lifestyle habits such as eating too much fatty food and not exercising enough.
The cholesterol can then build up in the blood vessels eventually blocking them.
But research has shown eating strawberries could help to reduce cholesterol.
A study, by a team split between universities in Canada, the US and South Korea, found that people who ate strawberries saw a reduction in “bad” cholesterol – or low-density lipoprotein.
Low-density lipoprotein is a type of cholesterol that clogs the arteries and raises the risk of other conditions such as strokes and heart disease.
While high-density lipoprotein – or “good” cholesterol – absorbs cholesterol and takes it to the liver where it is flushed from the body.
The analysis, which was published in the Metabolism – Clinical and Experimental journal – also found that 454 grams of strawberries per day helped reduce oxidative damage to the bad cholesterol, a process that aids atherosclerosis (the thickening or hardening of arteries).
It explains: “Our objective was to assess the effect of adding strawberries, as a source of antioxidants, to improve the antioxidant effect of a cholesterol-lowering diet (dietary portfolio).
“To this end, 28 hyperlipidemic (high cholesterol) subjects who had followed the dietary portfolio consisting of soy, viscous fibre, plant sterol, and nuts for a mean of 2.5 years were randomised to receive supplements of strawberries or additional oat bran bread in a randomised one-month crossover study with a two-week washout.
“Strawberry supplementation resulted in a greater reduction in oxidative damage to low-density lipoprotein (LDL) measured as thiobarbituric acid–reactive substances in the LDL fraction.”
It summarises: “Strawberries also improved the palatability of the diet. We conclude that strawberry supplementation reduced oxidative damage to LDL while maintaining reductions in blood lipids and enhancing diet palatability.
“Added fruit may improve the overall utility of diets designed to lower coronary heart disease risk.”
Generally a healthy level of total cholesterol in the blood is considered to be five or less millimoles per litre (mmol/l).
More specifically, a healthy level of high-density lipoprotein is one or more mmol/l.
And you should have four or less mmol/l of low-density lipoprotein.
To reduce cholesterol levels the NHS advises:Eating less saturated fat
- Exercising more
- To stop smoking
- Cutting back on alcohol.
Having high cholesterol is usually symptomless and patients will need a test by their GP to confirm their levels.
There are multiple factors that could put you at higher risk of having high cholesterol.
- Being over 40
- Being overweight
- Having a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease
- Eating an unhealthy diet
- Not exercising enough
- Drinking too much alcohol.
Other foods that can help lower cholesterol include oily fish, like mackerel and salmon, brown rice, bread and pasta, nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables.
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