High cholesterol is one of a number of conditions that contribute to heart disease, a major killer both in the UK and worldwide. It catalyses this harmful process by building up on the inside of your artery walls. Eventually, this can cause a blockage in your coronary arteries, triggering a heart attack.
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It is worth noting that cholesterol is not uniformly bad – your body needs a certain amount of it to build healthy cells.
LDL cholesterol, also dubbed the “bad” cholesterol, is the kind that sticks to your artery walls, so it is imperative to lower your LDL levels to stave off the risk of heart disease.
Fortunately, you can lower LDL cholesterol levels by overhauling your diet.
Certain items have been proven to be eminently effective at reducing LDL cholesterol.
Black tea, a staple in many cultures, has been shown to reduce harmful cholesterol when consumed regularly.
One randomised study found that drinking five servings of black tea per day reduced LDL cholesterol by 11 percent in individuals with slightly or mildly elevated cholesterol levels.
Another randomised three-month study in 47 individuals compared the effects of traditional Chinese black tea extract and a placebo on LDL levels.
Results also showed a significant decrease in LDL levels in those who drank black tea, compared to the placebo, without any undesirable side effects.
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Researchers concluded that black tea helped improve cholesterol levels in individuals at risk for heart disease or obesity.
The cholesterol-lowering effect is attributed to catechins, a type of antioxidant found in tea.
Despite the palpable benefits of drinking black tea, do not drink it excessively.
According to a letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine, excessive amounts of some teas may harm the kidneys.
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As it explains, black tea is a rich source of oxalates, which can cause kidney stones.
General tips to lower high cholesterol
“To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat,” advises the NHS.
- Meat pies, sausages and fatty meat
- Butter, lard and ghee
- Cream and hard cheese, like cheddar
- Cakes and biscuits
- Food that contains coconut oil or palm oil
As the NHS points out, you can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat.
Rich sources include:
- Oily fish, like mackerel and salmon
- Brown rice, bread and pasta
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruits and vegetables
Exercise can also improve your cholesterol levels by raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol aka the “good” cholesterol, according to Mayo Clinic.
HDL cholesterol counters the harmful effects of LDL cholesterol by picking it from the artery walls and transporting it to your liver where it is flushed out.
“Aim to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week,” advises the NHS.
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