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Six out of every ten people in the UK have high levels of blood cholesterol. It's important that you know how to lower your cholesterol levels as it can reduce your chance of plaque build-ups in your arteries, which can cause heart attacks. The main lines of treatment for high cholesterol include diet, exercise and, when applicable, prescription medication.
Take a look below to find out what you should know if you have high blood cholesterol.
Work closely with your doctor
Your doctor should have already outlined proven steps for lowering your cholesterol but make sure that you are proactive with your cholesterol management – ask questions about any complementary health practices for example dietary supplements.
Watch your diet
Certain foods contain unhealthy amounts of saturated fats, which is the main reason for raised levels of LDL cholesterol (often called 'bad' cholesterol.) Make sure that you reduce the amounts of saturated fats you consume in your daily diet. The average man should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat a day and the average woman should eat no more than 20g of saturated fat a day. Foods that contain high amounts of saturated fats include butter, cheese, sausages and bacon.
Manage your weight
This should be integral to any plan to lower blood cholesterol. Losing extra pounds not only lowers your LDL, but can also raise levels of HDL (often called 'good cholesterol.') This type of cholesterol helps to prevent plaque build-ups in your arteries.
Many studies have highlighted the importance of exercise in raising that good cholesterol which I mentioned above. As well as this, it can help you lose weight and, in that way, can help lower your LDL. It doesn't necessarily need to be strenuous exercise – the regularity of the activity is all-important.
Many natural dietary supplements may be good for lowering cholesterol however, in most cases; there isn't conclusive evidence that they do so. It's always best to get the OK from your doctor before you consider taking cholesterol-lowering supplements, as they can sometimes cause side effects. Supplements such as Artichoke extract, barley, fish oil, flaxseed, garlic extract, green tea extract and oat bran can be good for people with high levels of blood cholesterol.