High cholesterol: The common drink which researchers say may ‘significantly’ lower levels

Dr Chris reveals how eyes can indicate high cholesterol levels

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A meta analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition aimed to identify and quantify the effect of green tea and its extract on total cholesterol. Fourteen eligible randomised controlled trials with 1136 subjects were enrolled in the analysis. It found green tea consumption “significantly lowered” the total cholesterol concentration and “significantly lowered” the LDL-cholesterol concentration.

It says although the analysis of eligible studies showed that the administration of green tea beverages or extracts resulted in significant reductions in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol concentrations, though no effect on HDL cholesterol was observed.

High cholesterol does not tend to cause symptoms, so you can only find out if you have it from a blood test.

It is often caused by eating fatty food or being overweight, and occurs when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood.

Therefore, changing what you eat, being more active, and stopping smoking can help get your cholesterol back to a healthy level.

READ MORE: High cholesterol: Can you smell that? Three smelly symptoms associated with high levels

The Mayo Clinic says a few changes in your diet can reduce cholesterol and improve your heart health.

It says you should reduce saturated fats which are found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products and raise your total cholesterol.

The organisation says decreasing your consumption of saturated fats can reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

It also suggests that people eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It notes: “Omega-3 fatty acids don’t affect LDL cholesterol. But they have other heart-healthy benefits, including reducing blood pressure. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, and herring.”

The Mayo Clinic says soluble fibre can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. It notes that soluble fibre is found in such foods as oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears.

The organisation also says whey protein, which is found in dairy products, may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy.

“Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure,” it states.

It also says exercise can improve cholesterol. Indeed, moderate physical activity can help raise HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol.

It says: “With your doctor’s OK, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week.”

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada says: “As a rule of thumb, steer clear of highly processed foods, even if they are lower in fat content. Low-fat or diet foods are often loaded with calories, sodium and added sugar.”

It says that it is also a good idea to add more vegetarian options like beans, lentils, tofu and nuts to your weekly meal plans, and “get in the habit of filling half your plate with vegetables and fruit”.

The NHS outlines a number of other lifestyle changes you may be able to make to lower your cholesterol.

A key one is to cut down on alcohol. You should try to avoid drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week, and avoid binge drinking. You can ask your GP for help if you are struggling to cut down.

You might need medicine to lower your cholesterol if your cholesterol level has not gone down after changing your diet and lifestyle.

If you’re aged 40 to 74, you can get your cholesterol checked as part of an NHS Health Check.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) recommends all adults have a cholesterol check at any age, even if they feel completely well. It should be repeated every five years – or more often if the test was abnormal.

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