Cholesterol is an important fat that is used by the body for producing membranes, hormones and other functions. However, too much cholesterol can lead to damage in the heart and the arteries. While medication for lowering cholesterol is available, it is also possible to lower cholesterol by changing one’s diet.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia, and high cholesterol levels in the blood raises the risk of heart attacks and angina. People with high cholesterol should start by cutting down the amount of saturated fat in their diet.
Foods to avoid or to consume in moderation include cakes, pastries, high-fat dairy products, processed meats, deep-fried products and fatty meats.
Use polyunsaturated or monounsaturated margarine or oils, and eat more fish, fruit and vegetables high in antioxidants, oats and beans. People with high cholesterol who are overweight should also try to lose weight.
Before taking any supplements, it is essential that you consult with your GP. Some supplements that you could ask them about are:
- Vitamin E - There is some evidence to suggest that supplements such as Vitamin E can facilitate the lowering of cholesterol. Vitamin E protects cholesterol from oxidation and has powerful antioxidant properties.
- Policosanol - Another supplement called policosanol could also help reduce cholesterol, while omega-3 fats such as flaxseed oil and fish oil can help reduce the amount of cholesterol produced by the body.
- Herbal supplements - Herbal remedies such as Chinese red yeast rice, green tea, turmeric and rosemary could also have a positive effect on cholesterol levels, though more detailed studies need to be undertaken to confirm their success.
Other lifestyle factors such as physical inactivity, being overweight, smoking and alcohol consumption could also lead to high cholesterol. Smoking in particular can have a detrimental effect on cholesterol level as well as on a person’s general wellbeing.
Being more active and exercising regularly, avoiding cigarettes and consuming a moderate amount of alcohol can help lower cholesterol. Exercising for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week can have a positive effect on cholesterol. Exercise has other added advantages including lowering stress levels and aiding weight maintenance.
CBHS believes in promoting good health and wellbeing among its members. Members can take advantage of special discounts for gym memberships (e.g. Plus Fitness Health Clubs and Fernwood fitness) by filling out one or our Health Management Program Authorisation Form. You can also click here to find out about our member discounts.