High cholesterol: Swap your breakfast for THIS to lower cholesterol and heart attack risk
Cholesterol is a fatty substance vital for the normal functioning of the body, but having excessively high amounts in the blood can cause serious health problems. When there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it can clog up the major blood vessels supplying the heart. This leads to a condition called coronary heart disease, which is the leading cause of heart attacks. Heart attacks can happen when deposits of cholesterol in the blood vessels burst, causing a blood clot to develop.
The blood clot may then block the supply of blood to the heart, triggering a heart attack.
There are two types of cholesterol, known as ‘good’ or HDL cholesterol and ‘bad’ or LDL cholesterol.
HDL carries cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, where it’s either broken down or passed out of the body as a waste product. The higher the levels of HDL, the better.
LDL carries cholesterol to the cells that need it, but if there’s too much cholesterol for the cells to use, it can build up in the artery walls, causing heart disease.
High cholesterol can be caused by eating an unhealthy diet, particularly one which is high in saturated fat.
Saturated fat is found in foods including butter, cakes, biscuits, fatty cuts of meat, sausages, bacon, cheese, pastries, cream, chocolate and ice cream.
UK guidelines recommend men aged between 19 and 64 eat no more than 30g of saturated fat per day.
Women in the same age bracket are advised to eat no more than 20g of saturated fat per day.
But while foods containing saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels in the blood, other foods can help to lower them.
If you like a fried breakfast to start your day, this can cause problems for your cholesterol levels as typical ingredients like sausages and bacon are very high in saturated fat.
Instead, experts at Waitrose’s magazine, Health New Year 2019: 365 Steps to a Healthier, Fitter and Happier Year, recommend starting your day with oats soaked in apple juice or almond milk instead.
Oats contain a type of soluble fibre called beta glucan, which can help to lower cholesterol.
This is because beta glucan forms a gel which binds to cholesterol and bile in the intestines, helping limit the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed from the gut into your blood.
In addition, the liver has to take more cholesterol out of the blood to make more bile, which also lowers your blood cholesterol.
“Soak oats in apple juice or almond milk overnight for a ready-by-morning breakfast,” said Waitrose.
Another benefit to oats is they keep you feeling full, so should be able to keep you going without having to snack of unhealthy treats.