Healthy Tip: The fats of the matter

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The Heart Research UK and Damart women’s #LovingHearts survey suggested that women between the ages of 18-24 had very little awareness of a healthy cholesterol level, with less than 1 in 5 knowing that a healthy cholesterol level is less than 5 mmol/l.  Worryingly, one third of the 4,000 women surveyed had never even had their cholesterol levels checked.  

Cholesterol is a waxy substance made by the liver and plays an important role in the body.  It is one of the building blocks for cell membranes and, as it’s used in synthesising some hormones, is essential for your health.  Too much cholesterol in the blood however, especially the wrong kind, can deposit in the artery walls.  This narrowing of the arteries called atherosclerosis can start at any age and reduce the number of years your heart is likely to keep beating.  The good news is your heart age is in your hands.  Make today count towards a longer, happier, healthier life by following our healthy tips;

Flush out the ‘bad’
LDL or Low Density Lipoproteins carry cholesterol around the body to the cells and are known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, when there is too much of it, it can stick to the artery walls, causing arteries to narrow and become blocked.   LDL can increase when you have a diet high in saturated fats and ‘hydrogenated’ fats. Cut off visible fat on red meat, go for green on traffic light food labelling, avoid things like ready meals, pastries, cakes and hard margarines and try out some heart healthy recipes.

Go nuts for ‘good’
HDL or High Density Lipoproteins are called ‘good’ cholesterol, because they mop-up excess cholesterol from the walls of the artery and other areas of the body and take it back to the liver to be disposed of.  A low level of HDL can indicate an increased risk of heart disease.  You can keep this good cholesterol topped up by boosting monounsaturated fats, found in olive and rapeseed oils, avocados, nuts and seeds.  Exercise is also a great way of keeping your LDL: HDL in balance.

Mop it up
A high fibre diet can help to promote healthier cholesterol levels. Soluble fibre from oats, pulses, beans and lentils forms a gel which traps LDL cholesterol and helps remove it from your heart and arteries.   Insoluble fibre, or ‘roughage’ from wholegrain varieties of breakfast cereals, wholemeal pasta, bread and rice will also help to keep you fuller for longer- an effective way of managing a healthy weight.  

Breathe easy
October is devoted to raising national awareness of the dangers of smoking and high cholesterol through two campaigns; Stoptober and National Cholesterol Month, but did you know there is a link? Going smoke free can significantly improve your ratio of good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol and add years to your life.  Why not try our 50 day challenge – you could save yourself around *£500 and feel healthier too.  
*(£10 per packet @ 20 per day is equal to a saving of £500 over 50 days.  Use NHS cost calculator to calculate individual savings)

Keep your heart healthy by being cholesterol conscious. Reduce your risk of heart disease by choosing to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.  Being mindful of your cholesterol levels will help you and your family to live longer, healthier, happier lives.

Ideas for heart-healthy recipes can be found HERE
For more information and advice about a heart-healthy lifestyle, contact Heart Research UK’s Lifestyle team on 0113 234 7474 or email