Cholesterol is a key risk factor of Heart Disease. If you want to manage your cholesterol, the first step is to find out your cholesterol levels. If your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels are too high, there are lots of things you can do to start lowering them. As well as eating Flora ProActiv, we have plenty of tips to help you lower your cholesterol. Remember you should always consult your GP if you have high cholesterol levels.
A combination of simple changes is the best way to lower your cholesterol levels along with your risk of heart disease*:
Eat plant sterols
In studies, plant sterols have been proven to significantly lower cholesterol. Flora ProActiv foods contain concentrated levels of plant sterols – in fact, just the right amount to help you lower your cholesterol levels by 7 to 10% in just two to three weeks, when consumed daily.**
Good fats and bad fats
Saturated fats can raise LDL levels; they’re found in foods like cheese, butter, cream, cakes, pastries, fatty cuts of meat, sausages and burgers.
Try to cut back on “bad” (trans and saturated) fats and replace them with “good” (unsaturated) fats. It’s easy: swap butter for an unsaturated spread e.g. sunflower, olive or Flora ProActiv spreads , lard for vegetable oil, fatty meat for lean meat, chicken (without skin) or fish, and full-fat milk for skimmed, 1% or semi skimmed milk.
If you’re buying processed foods, check the nutrition labels to help you make the healthiest choice.
Find healthier protein sources
Remove skin and visible fat from meat and poultry and choose lean cuts to reduce the saturated fat content. Go for healthier cooking methods like baking, grilling, boiling or steaming rather than frying.
Opt for beans, legumes, lentils, fish, poultry, and lean meat instead of processed and fatty meats. These foods will provide you with protein but are lower in saturated fat. You can add pulses to casseroles and stews to replace or bulk out meat. And try to eat oily fish (like salmon, mackerel, trout or sardines at least once a week (or 2-3 times a week if you have had a heart attack) They contain omega-3 fats that are a type of polyunsaturated fat that can help to protect your heart health.
Get your 5 a day
Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables provides your body with the fibre, vitamins and minerals that it needs and swapping fatty snacks for fruit and vegetables you can help to lower your saturated fat intake.
Aim for at least five portions a day. One portion = 80g, or any of the following:
- 1 apple
- 1 slice of melon
- 2 satsumas
- 1 tablespoon of dried fruit
- 1 small glass of fruit juice
- 3 tablespoons of vegetables
- 1 dessert bowl of salad
Watch your salt
Eating too much salt is linked to high blood pressure, another risk factor for heart disease. Government recommendations advise adults to consume less than 6g of salt a day (about a teaspoon) but on average we are eating more than this. Always check food labels to help you to make the healthiest choices and avoid adding salt during cooking or at the table. Use herbs, spices, pepper, lemon and chilli to flavour your food instead of salt.
Have a balanced diet
Base your meals on starchy carbohydrates like bread, grains, pasta, rice or potatoes, These foods provide energy and dietary fibre along with vitamins and minerals. Choose wholegrain options – from wholewheat pasta and brown rice to wholemeal or granary bread. Combine them with some lean proteins or low fat dairy and a good helping of fruit and vegetables to balance things out.
Watch your alcohol intake
If you like a tipple, drink in moderation. The NHS recommends that men shouldn’t regularly drink more than 3–4 units of alcohol per day, and women no more than 2–3 units.
Keep your weight in check
Being overweight is bad for your heart and makes it harder to maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Read more about weight and bmi
Along with adopting a healthy diet, regular physical activity can contribute to lowering your cholesterol levels. It can also help you:
- Achieve a healthy weight and shape
- Maintain healthy blood pressure levels
- Re-energise, de-stress and relax
Experts recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity on at least five days a week –whether it’s three ten-minute sessions or one half-hour burst. A brisk walk is ideal as it leaves you slightly breathless and increases your heart rate. Other ways to increase your activity include:
- Taking the stairs
- Parking the car further away from your destination
- Getting off the bus a stop earlier
- Using an exercise bike while watching TV
- Getting stuck into some vigorous gardening
- Using a pedometer and taking more steps each day
- Dancing to your favourite tunes!
- Swimming during your lunch hour
Check your blood pressure
Get your blood pressure checked regularly by a doctor, chemist or nurse. Find out more about blood pressure
Manage your stress
Too much stress isn’t good for heart health. Whether you’re feeling anxiety, panic or pressure from demands at work or at home, it’s important to create coping mechanisms.
*As heart disease has multiple risk factors, you may need to improve more than one to reduce your overall risk.
*Flora ProActiv 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.