High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Cholesterol – a waxy substance produced inside the liver – helps to build healthy cells. However, high cholesterol means you have too much of the “bad” type of cholesterol in your blood. This can hike your risk of heart disease and other serious complications. Impeding the effort to curb high cholesterol is the absence of symptoms that sound the alarm.
However, if you’re genetically predisposed to high cholesterol, symptoms can show up, two of which appear on the hands.
Familial hypercholesterolemia is a genetic condition that affects the way the body processes cholesterol.
It’s caused by a gene alteration that’s passed down from one or both parents.
“This change prevents the body from ridding itself of the type of cholesterol that can build up in the arteries and cause heart disease,” explains the Mayo Clinic.
Hands up if you have it
As the health body explains, adults and children who have familial hypercholesterolemia have very high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in their blood.
LDL cholesterol is known as “bad” cholesterol because it can build up in the walls of the arteries, making them hard and narrow.
There are two signs of “excess” cholesterol build-up that can show up on the hands.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are:
- Skin deposits
- Thickening tendons.
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How is familial hypercholesterolemia treated?
There isn’t a cure for familial hypercholesterolemia but it can be treated.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) explains: “Treatment can reduce your risk of getting heart disease, having a heart attack or stroke, or needing other treatment.
“If you or your child is diagnosed with FH [familial hypercholesterolemia], speak with your doctor about the best treatment plan.
It’s worth noting that people with high cholesterol often find they can bring their levels of cholesterol down by changing their diet.
Unfortunately, as the BHF notes, familial hypercholesterolemia can’t be cured through diet alone but there are dietary principles that can help and these also apply to people who do not have familial hypercholesterolemia but have high cholesterol levels.
There are several foods which are not just part of a healthy diet, they can actively help to lower your cholesterol too.
According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, cutting down on saturated fat and replacing some of it with unsaturated fats is a great way to lower your cholesterol.
Rich sources of unsaturated fat include:
- vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed, nut and seed oils
- Avocado, nuts and seeds
- Fat spreads made from vegetable oils, such as sunflower and olive Oil
- Oily fish.
“Oily fish are a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, specifically a type called omega-3 fats,” says Heart UK.
The cholesterol charity says to eat two portions of fish per week, at least one of which should be oily.
Exercise is also integral to reducing high cholesterol levels.
According to the NHS, you should aim to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week.
Some good things to try when starting out include:
- Walking – try to walk fast enough so your heart starts beating Faster
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