Dr Amir’s five tips for reducing cholesterol this winter

Why cholesterol is bad for you

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Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the blood. Too much of it can lead to serious health problems as it can cause blockages in the arteries. If left untreated this can result in conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.

Over the winter many of us will enjoy plenty of tasty foods and drinks – especially during the festive season – so it could be easy to raise your cholesterol levels without realising.

GP and TV personality, Doctor Amir Khan, has teamed up with Flora ProActiv to give tips on how to manage cholesterol throughout the winter

He said: “We all want to enjoy the foods that we love without having to worry about the consequences, especially during a season where we typically eat richer foods, however raised cholesterol is a serious problem we can’t ignore.”

Sensible snacking

Christmas is known for its snacks, especially crisps and dips where people graze on them throughout the day.

Try swapping sour cream dips for healthier homemade Greek yoghurt based dips.

And, whilst mince pies are a must during the festive season, making homemade ones using filo pastry instead of shortcrust pastry can significantly reduce the fat content.

To go one step further, try mince tarts. By removing the pastry lid there’s less fat content but still means you get the delicious filling in a pastry cup.

Choose leaner proteins

Processed red meats such as sausages and bacon feature heavily in Christmas breakfasts and roast dinners, which are high cholesterol foods and can not only increase risk of heart disease but have also been linked to cancers such as that of the bowel.

Choosing white meats like turkey is a great alternative, particularly the breast meat as it’s the most lean, and make sure to leave out the skin.

Fish is also another healthier option and salmon is full of unsaturated fats that can help lower bad fats in your body.

Spice it up

Add more turmeric to foods – it has a compound called curcumin, which has been shown to reduce total cholesterol and harmful low-density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol) levels in our blood as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Ground turmeric is delicious and can be added to scrambled eggs as part of a breakfast or lunch, or to roasted vegetables to give extra flavour.

Move more

It’s easy to curl up on the sofa and stay indoors during the winter months, especially after a big Christmas dinner, but movement will benefit both cholesterol levels and mental health.

Don’t think of it as exercise as that can take the fun out of it and it can be anything such as dancing, gardening, a brisk walk, or hoola-hooping.

Not only does it improve physical fitness and help combat obesity, but it also reduces harmful low-density lipoprotein and increases beneficial high-density lipoprotein.

Swapping out dairy butter for a healthier alternative

Crackers with dairy butter and cheese is a firm favourite when it comes to festive foods, however dairy butter is a big culprit when it comes to contributing to high cholesterol levels.

Instead, swap it out with a spread like FloraProActiv spread which contains plant sterols, by eating 1.5 grams to three grams a day it has been clinically proven to lower cholesterol in two to three weeks when eaten alongside a balanced diet containing fruit and vegetables accompanied by an active lifestyle.

A healthy level of total cholesterol in the blood is five or less millimoles per litre (mmol/l).

More specifically, a healthy level of high-density lipoprotein (“good” cholesterol) is one or more mmol/l, whereas you should have four or less mmol/l of low-density lipoprotein.

Having high cholesterol is usually linked to a number of lifestyle factors, including diet and exercise, however, it can also run in families.

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