Eating fatty foods, for example, can increase the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Considered to be “bad” for you, LDL cholesterol settles inside of the arteries, narrowing the passageway of blood. Combined with other fatty material in the blood, LDL cholesterol can stick to the artery walls; when a rupture occurs, a person’s life could be on the line.
To elaborate, if a plaque of fatty material cracks from the artery wall, a blood clot will form to heal the injured artery.
If the blood clot blocks the blood supply to the brain, then a stroke occurs; if blood supply to the heart is prevented, a heart attack ensues.
While a healthy diet and exercise are key components of lowering cholesterol levels, could supplements help too?
According to research, omega-3 supplements could help reduce triglycerides and inflammation, thereby reducing a person’s cardiovascular risk.
What are triglycerides?
Heart UK, the cholesterol charity, explains that triglycerides are a type of blood fat.
“They are our main source of energy and are essential for good health,” the charity says.
“But if you have too much in your blood, this can raise the risk of heart disease.”
Triglycerides are a combination of saturated fats and unsaturated fats, and glycerol – a form of glucose (sugar).
These blood fats are created by the liver and are gained from our diet.
Foods that contain triglycerides include: meat, dairy, cooking oils and fats.
A cholesterol test can reveal your triglyceride levels; people are advised to aim for a non-fasting triglyceride level below 2.3mmol/L.
“If your doctor has asked you to fast for a test (usually for 10-14 hours) then your triglyceride level should be below 1.7mmol/L,” Heart UK adds.
Before taking any supplements to lower cholesterol, it is advisable to speak to your doctor.
Extremely high cholesterol can be treated with prescribed statins, but lifestyle changes are highly recommended.
To lower cholesterol levels, the NHS suggests eating more oily fish, such as mackerel and salmon, and fruits.
It’s also advisable to replace cakes and biscuits, for example, with nuts and seeds.