Why cholesterol is bad for you
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Having high cholesterol means you have too much of a fatty substance known as cholesterol in your blood. Over time this can build up in your blood vessels and if not treated can cause blockages. These blockages can be dangerous and can result in conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.
High cholesterol can be caused by many factors including lack of exercise, smoking and drinking alcohol.
However, it is often linked with diet and eating too much food high in saturated fats. In the same way that certain foods can lead to high cholesterol, other foods can help reduce it.
Nutritional expert and founder of OriGym, Luke Hughes, spoke with Express.co.uk about how one seed high in “good” fats could be beneficial to those looking to lower their cholesterol.
He said: “Sesame seeds can be added to a number of healthy dishes like stir-fried veg and chicken and Asian rice and noodle dishes.
“They can also be tossed into salads, topped onto hummus, sushi and soups.
“Adding one tablespoon of these healthy high-fat foods to your lunchtime salad or evening dinner can provide you with an extra 14 grams of total fat.”
“They are rich in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and low in saturates.”
He explained: “Studies have shown that consuming more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat relative to saturated fat can lower levels of bad cholesterol in your body.
“Whilst both these healthy fats are recognised to lower cholesterol levels, sesame seeds also contain plant compounds known as lignans and phytosterols which have also been found to lower our cholesterol levels.”
This was backed by a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, which concluded that sesame seeds could lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol).
And another paper, which was published in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science in 2017, reported how sesame seed oil also lowered triglycerides, a type of blood fat.
Research has also shown that regularly consuming sesame seeds can help decrease high cholesterol and triglycerides, a type of blood fat.
“Having too much of foods that contain triglycerides for example, meat, dairy, oils and fats), however, can increase the risk of heart disease and even higher levels can generate conditions like pancreatitis,” Mr Hughes added.
High-density lipoprotein (“good” cholesterol) works to reduce cholesterol levels by absorbing it and carrying it back to the liver.
The liver then removes it from the body.
In contrast, low-density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol) is what can build up on the walls of your blood vessels and over time this causes the insides of the vessels to narrow.
A healthy level of total cholesterol in the blood is considered to be five or less millimoles per litre (mmol/l).
More specifically, a healthy level of high-density lipoprotein is one or more mmol/l.
And you should have four or less mmol/l of low-density lipoprotein.
To reduce cholesterol levels the NHS advises:
- Eating less saturated fat
- Exercising more
- To stop smoking
- Cutting back on alcohol.
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