Q I’ve been told I have high cholesterol. I know this can affect my heart health, so what foods should I be eating to help improve this, and what should I avoid?
Beverly, via email
A There are two types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. The former can cause plaque in the arteries, which builds up and blocks blood flow to the heart. The latter is the good type, as it removes LDL cholesterol from your arteries.
To reduce your LDL cholesterol and, conversely, boost your HDL cholesterol, choose foods that are low in saturated fat and trans fat. This means opting for leaner cuts of meat (or trimming the fat before cooking meat) and limiting your intake of butter, which contains saturated fat, as well as store-bought baked goods like croissants and other pastries, which are made using trans fats.
Foods to eat more of include extra-virgin olive oil, oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, avocados, a good variety of fruit and veg, soy bean products (tofu and miso paste), nuts and seeds, as well as wholegrain breads and pastas. By focusing on healthier food swaps — lean meat and fish over fatty cuts, extra-virgin olive oil and avocado instead of butter, and wholegrain products over refined ones — you’ll reduce your cholesterol and boost your nutrition. Regular exercise also helps.
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Your complete guide to improving your blood cholesterol and heart health.