There are two types of cholesterol present in our bodies LDL and HDL. The LDL is considered 'bad' as it is responsible for narrowing blood vesselswhen it becomes deposited on the arterial walls. HDL is the 'good' cholesterol that works to clear LDL from the bloodstream. For this reason is important to get the right balance of both LDL and HDL to protect ourselves and keep a healthy heart.
There are many reasons why people may suffer from high cholesterol, but a common cause is from eating too much saturated fat in the diet. Meat, dairy products, biscuits and pastries are very high in saturated fat. Having a diet that is too high in fatty foods, smoking, being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle can all impact on the level of cholesterol in the bloodstream. However, these are all areas where we can work to improve our health and take positive steps towards reducing the cholesterol level in our blood.
It is very simple to have your cholesterol checked. I recently had a health MOT, included in which was a simple blood test to check my cholesterol level. At my age, it is important to pay extra attention to my health and take measures to keep me healthy. Thankfully, my levels were normal, but that doesn't mean I am about to become complacent about the health of my heart.
The World Health Organisation estimates that some 80% of heart disease is preventable, which means that with some small changes we can improve our heart health. Here are some ideas that will help us towards having a healthier heart!
Exercise - walking, running, dancing, swimming or even playing with the kids counts. Just up the amount of physical exercise you get everyday and reap the benefits. Experts recommend five 30 minute sessions of moderate activity a week as a minimum. But even doing things like taking the stairs, walking to the shops or doing some vigorous housework or gardening will make a difference.
Another way to lower cholesterol is by switching our usual spread to Flora Pro.Activ. Three portions a day is clinically proven to reduce cholesterol. Flora pro.activ contains plant sterols. Plant sterols have been shown to lower blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. Consuming 1.5-2.4g of plant sterols per day can lower cholesterol by 7-10% in 2-3 weeks when consumed as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle with sufficient fruit and vegetables.
It comes in Light, Buttery and Olive flavours and can be used as a spread on sandwiches and toast or on vegetables and jacket potatoes. They all contain Omega 3 and 6 and have around 80% less saturated fat than butter. They work by reducing the amount of cholesterol absorbed by the gut, limiting the amount that enters the bloodstream and resulting in lower levels of LDL.
When used in conjunction with other steps, this can be an effective way to help reduce cholesterol and limit the negative effect of LDL in the body.
Eat a Healthy Diet - Variety is the key to a healthy diet. Enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains and pulses. Avoid consuming too many fatty, processed foods like crisps, biscuits, pies, ready meals, deep fried foods etc. Be sure to consume at least five portions of vegetables and fruits a day, switching fatty snacks for healthier options such as carrot sticks or an apple. A diet made up from good wholesome ingredients has many benefits.
Reduce Stress - Try to get enough sleep and set aside 10 minutes a day to sit and relax and do nothing! Meditate in these 10 minutes if you want to, or just attempt to forget all the worries you have and enjoy some uninterrupted me-time. Try to create some coping mechanisms to limit the anxiety, pressure or stress caused by the demands of home and work.
Quit Smoking and Drinking Excessively - If you can, give up smoking. We all know how harmful (and expensive) this habit is. The NHS can offer advice. Drink alcohol only in moderation and try not to exceed 2-3 units of alcohol in a day. You can still enjoy the odd glass of red wine!
By making these small changes we can take positive steps to improve our overall health as well as the health of our heart. It's never too late to start making changes for the better!
For more advice about lowering cholesterol and to get a free starter kit featuring money off coupons, recipe ideas and a diet sheet visit http://www.floraproactiv.co.uk
This post has been brought to you in conjunction with Flora Pro Activ but I retain full editorial control.