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High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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High cholesterol means you have too much cholesterol in your blood. Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver. Cholesterol performs many important roles, such as helping to make hormones. However, you can have too much of a good thing. High levels can gum up your arteries, raising your risk of a heart attack.

Unfortunately, high cholesterol only tends to present symptoms when it restricts the blood supply to areas of the body.

This harmful mechanism is called peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Two telltale signs of PAD can show up in your toes, notes Aurora Health Care.

According to the health body, new quebec pharmacy “burning or aching pain in your feet and toes while resting or in bed” can indicate the cholesterol complication.

“The most common symptom you’ll notice is painful cramping in your calf, thigh or buttocks when you walk or move. The feeling usually goes away when you rest,” it adds.

Other signs include:

  • Erectile dysfunction, especially if you also have diabetes
  • Poor toenail growth
  • Redness or bluish colour in your legs or feet
  • Toe and foot sores that don’t heal
  • Little or no pulse in your legs or feet, which your doctor will look for.

Act early

To stave off the threat of cholesterol complications such as PAD, it is vital that you first get a formal diagnosis of high cholesterol.

Since high cholesterol typically doesn’t present symptoms, you can only find out if you have it from a blood test.

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“Your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high,” explains the NHS.

“This may be because of your age, weight or another condition you have (like high blood pressure or diabetes).”

What happens next

Following a formal diagnosis of high cholesterol, steps must be taken to lower high levels.

The three pillars of cholesterol control are eating a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise and taking statins.

Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs that are often prescribed when lifestyle tweaks are not delivering results.

Natural ways to lower cholesterol

“If you have high cholesterol, it’s most important to eat less saturated fat,” says the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Foods that are high in saturated fats are things like fatty and processed meat, pies and pastry, butter, cream, and coconut oil.

According to the BHF, the best way to eat a better diet is to swap your saturated fats with foods that are high in unsaturated fat like vegetable oils (sunflower, olive and rapeseed oil), nuts seeds and avocado and oily fish.

The health body continues: “Eating high-fibre food can also help to lower your cholesterol,” says the health body.

“Fibre helps reduce the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed into the bloodstream from your intestine.”

How much exercise is optimal?

You should aim to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week, advises the NHS.

Some good things to try when starting out include:

  • Walking – try to walk fast enough so your heart starts beating faster
  • Swimming
  • Cycling.

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