High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Although food can be the very trigger that has caused your cholesterol levels to skyrocket in the first place, it can also prove an antidote. What’s more, an expert told Express.co.uk that it’s not only colourful fruit and veg that can see your levels fall: foods that could target the fatty substance can also have a creamy texture.
Packed with saturated fat, cheese is the number one culprit when it comes to “bad” cholesterol levels.
While the majority of dairy products are responsible for giving your levels a boost, the ones fortified with plant stanols can do the exact opposite.
Corrine Toyn, Healthcare Professional Relations Manager at Benecol, said: “Plant stanol ester is a compound that lowers blood cholesterol by interfering with and reducing cholesterol absorption in the small intestine.
“A daily intake of 1.5–3.0 grams of plant stanols reduces LDL cholesterol by 7 to 12.5 percent in two to three weeks.”
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From yoghurts to dairy drinks and milk to spreads, there are various options enriched with these goodies to choose from.
In the UK, companies like Benecol and Flora fortify their products with the plant chemicals.
Although eating your way through a range of dairy foods to get your levels in check might sound too good to be true, there’s also research backing plant stanols.
Ms Toyn said: “Plant stanol esters have been rigorously researched and tested and there’s plenty of evidence that proves they help to lower cholesterol and keep it lower with daily use.
“In fact, their ability to lower cholesterol has been demonstrated in more than 80 clinical studies.
“And expert guidelines around the world recommend people with high blood cholesterol to include plant stanols as part of an overall healthy eating plan that will help to reduce cholesterol.”
The reason why plant stanols can help slash cholesterol comes down to their size that is similar to that of cholesterol.
Ms Toyn explained that the plant chemicals are able to take the place of some cholesterol when it’s being absorbed into your blood.
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She said: “In our digestive system, small particles carry cholesterol to the wall of our intestine.
“Here, the cholesterol travels across the wall and is absorbed into the blood.
“[Plant stanols] are able to jump in and take the place of some of the cholesterol in these small particles.
“This means more cholesterol stays in our digestive system rather than entering our bloodstream.”
While usually about 50 percent of cholesterol gets absorbed from your digestive tract into your blood, only 20 percent of cholesterol gets absorbed when you eat plant stanols.
To get all of these benefits, the expert recommended eating plant stanol products daily as a part of a healthy diet.
Ms Toyn said: “It’s important to eat the products with a meal rather than on their own.
“This is because eating a meal helps to set the whole digestive process in motion, ensuring that cholesterol is in the digestive system.”
The good news is that people who also take cholesterol-lowering medicine known as statins can enjoy the fortified dairy products as well.
So, whether you opt for a buttery spread on toast in the morning or drink yoghurt milk in the afternoon, you can enjoy various foods while reaping a cholesterol-lowering effect.
Furthemore, Benecol has partnered up with a radio brand Heart for World Heart Day to encourage Britons to get tested and find out what their cholesterol levels are. You can get your free test in partnership with Medichecks on Benecol’s website.
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