Six in 10 people in the UK have raised or abnormal levels of blood cholesterol, according to Heart UK. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is vital for the normal functioning of the body, but having too much in the blood can clog up the arteries, resulting in coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of heart attacks. Keep cholesterol levels low, or lower them if they are already high, with these three supplements:
Beta-glucan is a type of fibre found in oats and barley. When you eat it, beta-glucan forms a gel which binds to cholesterol and bile – which is made from cholesterol – in the intestines.
This helps limit the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed from the gut into your blood.
Your liver has to take more cholesterol out of your blood to make more bile, which also lowers your blood cholesterol.
Plant stanols and sterols
Sterols and stanols are plant chemicals which are a similar size and shape to cholesterol.
They are absorbed from the intestines into the blood stream and block some cholesterol from being absorbed – lowering the cholesterol in your blood.
There is a small amount of sterols from plant-based foods such as vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, but it’s not enough to lower cholesterol.
Food companies have therefore developed foods with plant sterols or stanols added to them, such as mini yoghurt drinks, fat spreads, milk and yoghurts.
These fortified foods lower your cholesterol gradually, over a few weeks, and how much depends on the amount you eat.
“Some experts believe they are the most effective single food for lowering cholesterol,” said Heart UK.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown in studies to lower triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood which are usually measured alongside cholesterol levels.
The fatty acids also have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, decreases the growth of plaque in the arteries, and aids in thinning blood, according to medical website webmd.
Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat which, when eaten in small amounts, can help lower the level of bad cholesterol in the blood.
It is found in oily fish, nuts and seeds and plant oils.