High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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Lipid-lowering drugs like statins have become the mainstay of cholesterol treatment, but a great number of cases are correctable with minor lifestyle changes. Studies have shown that one’s diet needn’t change completely to achieve results. Cutting out certain foods, however, may make a substantial difference.

Early research conducted by the Lifestyle Heart Trial showed that intensive lifestyle changes could lead to regressions of atherosclerosis within a year.

Atherosclerosis involves the build-up of fatty deposits on the insides of the artery walls, causing them to thicken and harden over time.

These deposits consist mainly of fatty substances that rob the arterial walls of their elasticity.

Over time this hinders circulation and paves the way for other complications like high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and sudden cardiac death.

In the Lifestyle Heart Trial study, conducted over a six-year period at the California Pacific Medical Centre, two dietary changes proved revolutionary in reversing the condition.

Of the twenty-two participants studied, 18 (82 percent) who adhered to a vegetarian diet that restricted fat intake to 10 percent of their total calories saw improvements in their condition.

Participants experienced a “significant regression” of advanced coronary artery disease within a year, according to the 3rd Edition of Prescription for Nutritional Healing.

Another key aspect of the diet is that it limited dietary cholesterol to no more than five milligrams per day.

In the UK, Britons at risk of heart disease are advised to eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day.

The average American, for example, consumes between 300 and 500 milligrams of dietary cholesterol every day.

A balanced vegetarian diet will help lower cholesterol if it is low in total saturated fat and high in fibre.

Soluble fibre, found in plants, is particularly useful in removing plaque from the arteries because of the course of action it takes inside the veins.

Once ingested, these can bind to cholesterol in the intestines and remove it from the body during excretion.

This is why plant-based sources like fruits, vegetables, and grains are widely recommended as primary foods for people fighting artery disease.

Other dietary additions that benefit the cardiovascular system are foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.

These essential molecules help in reducing signs of hypertension, migraine, arthritis and a host of other chronic conditions.

Some reports have shown that in Arctic populations that consume high amounts of fatty acids, rates of atherosclerosis are considerably lower compared to other countries.

Another key approach to fighting artery disease is weight loss in individuals who are overweight, as obesity promotes unfavourable changes in harmful cholesterol levels.

A great number of medical trials support the benefits of walking for patients to maintain a healthy weight.

Furthermore, high-cholesterol foods containing processed and saturated fats should be avoided at all costs to prevent vascular complications from advancing.

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