Preventing high cholesterol

The best way to stop high cholesterol is to lose weight, get more active, cut down on alcohol and stop smoking. Find out why this works.

If you are overweight, you can make big improvements to your health including improving your cholesterol levels. There are a number of ways to get your weight down, but cutting down on carbohydrates is one of the best ways if you have diabetes.


Cutting down on carbs can improve cholesterol

Most people don’t realise that starch is made up of lots of sugar molecules stuck together. Foods such as rice, bread, pasta, cereals, potatoes and yams will break down in the intestine into quite large amounts of sugar. For example, a plate of rice could have about 18 teaspoons of sugar in it. This sugar enters the bloodstream and the excess energy is stored as fat.

It’s a fact: cutting back on carbohydrates will have a big impact on your blood sugar levels and your weight.

Some people have managed to get their type 2 diabetes into remission by making these changes.

Take action now to be healthier.

Losing weight will tend to reduce your “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and triglycerides (another form of “bad” fat in the blood).

Eat the right kind of fats

Avoid or cut down on foods known to be high in saturated fats

  • cakes and biscuits
  • pastries and pies
  • sausages and bacon
  • other fatty meats (remove fat)
  • chocolate (milk and white)
  • palm oil

Try to eat more mono-unsaturated fats, which have been shown to increase levels of "good cholesterol" (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) and reduce any blockages in your arteries.

Foods high in unsaturated fat include:

  • avocados
  • oily fish like mackerel, salmon and herrings
  • nuts and seeds
  • olive oil, and cold pressed rapeseed oil

Your diet should also include lots of green vegetables, nuts, seeds and berries. Read more about healthy eating.

Smoking leads to high cholesterol

Cigarettes have a chemical called “acrolein” that stops “good cholesterol” or HDL moving fatty deposits to the liver, leading to high cholesterol and narrowing of the arteries.

Smoking is a major risk factor for both heart attacks and strokes.

If you smoke, try stopping?

Get active: move more

Being active increases the levels of good cholesterol or HDL in your body by making the body move fatty deposits to the liver, so they can be broken down.

Being overweight can increase the amount of "bad cholesterol" in your blood, so a little more moving could help you to lose weight, which could cut your cholesterol. Plus regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure, by keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy.  Find some new ways to move more for free.