Eating fatty foods, for example, can increase the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Considered “bad” for you, LDL cholesterol settles inside the arteries, narrowing the passage of blood. Combined with other fats in the blood, LDL cholesterol can stick to artery walls; when a rupture occurs, a person’s life can be at stake.
To elaborate, if a plaque of fatty material cracks from the arterial wall, a blood clot will form to heal the injured artery.
If the blood clot blocks the blood supply to the brain, a stroke occurs; if the blood supply to the heart is impeded, a heart attack ensues.
Although a healthy diet and exercise are key to lowering cholesterol levels, could supplements also help?
According to research, omega-3 supplements may help lower triglycerides and inflammation, reducing a person’s cardiovascular risk.
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What are triglycerides?
Heart UK, the cholesterol charity, explains that triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood.
“They are our main source of energy and are essential for good health,” says the charity.
“But if you have too much of it in your blood, it can increase your risk of heart disease.”
Triglycerides are a combination of saturated and unsaturated fats, and glycerol – a form of glucose (sugar).
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These blood fats are created by the liver and come from our diet.
Foods that contain triglycerides include: meat, dairy products, cooking oils and fats.
A cholesterol test can reveal your triglyceride levels; people are advised to aim for a non-fasting triglyceride level of less than 2.3 mmol/L.
“If your doctor has asked you to fast for a test (usually for 10-14 hours), your triglyceride level should be below 1.7 mmol/L,” Heart UK adds.
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Before taking supplements to lower cholesterol, it is advisable to speak with your doctor.
Extremely high cholesterol can be treated with prescribed statins, but lifestyle changes are highly recommended.
To lower cholesterol levels, the NHS suggests eating more fatty fish, such as mackerel and salmon, and fruit.
It is also advisable to replace cakes and cookies, for example, with nuts and seeds.
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