High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Indeed, Heart UK notes there has been lots of research into omega 3 fats and oily fish and how they can improve heart health. It explains: “Omega 3 fats are a group of unsaturated fats that we need to stay healthy, especially for heart health. Eating foods high in omega 3s could help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.”
The organisation says there are different types of omega 3s which are found in different foods. It says the main ones are:
- ALA (alpha linolenic acid) – essential for good health, but our bodies can’t make it, so we need to get it from the foods we eat. It’s mainly found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – we need these types of omega 3 fats for a healthy heart and blood circulation. Our bodies can make some of these fats from the ALA in food, 35 weeks pregnant can i take tylenol pm but only a small amount. So, it’s good to eat foods that already contain them.
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Heart UK says: “Oily fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel are the best source of EPA and DHA.
“White fish and shellfish contain some omega 3s, but in smaller amounts.”
It says the omega 3 fats EPA and DHA can help protect the heart and blood vessels from disease.
They can help lower triglycerides, improve circulation, prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure and keep the rhythm of your heart steady.
The Mayo Clinic says: “Omega 3 fatty acids are derived from food. They can’t be manufactured in the body.”
It says: “There’s strong evidence that omega 3 fatty acids can significantly reduce blood triglyceride levels.
“There also appears to be a slight improvement in high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol, although an increase in levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol also was observed.”
It notes: “Fish oil appears to contain almost no mercury, which can be a cause for concern in certain types of fish. While generally safe, getting too much fish oil can increase your risk of bleeding and might affect your immune response.”
The Mayo Clinic says when taken as recommended, fish oil supplements are generally considered safe.
However, fish oil supplements can cause mild side effects, including:
- A fishy aftertaste
- Bad breath
- Heartburn, nausea or diarrhoea
“Taking high doses of fish oil supplements might increase the risk of bleeding and possibly increase the risk of stroke,” it warns.
You can find out if you have high cholesterol through a blood test. If you are over 40, you may have a test during your NHS Health Check. This is a check-up that can help spot early signs of problems like heart disease and diabetes.
“Your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high,” Heart UK says.
The British Heart Foundation says: “If your cholesterol is very high and if lifestyle changes are not enough, your doctor might suggest controlling it with medication.”
Statins are the main type of medicine used to reduce cholesterol. The NHS says: “Like all medicines, statins can cause side effects. But most people tolerate them well and do not have any problems.”
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