High cholesterol is when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. It’s mainly caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol. The condition is highly pernicious because it raises your risk of heart disease yet symptoms are often absent.
According to research, xanthelasma is a warning sign of very high cholesterol levels.
Xanthelasmas are yellowish papules and plaques caused by localised accumulation of cholesterol commonly seen on the eyelid.
Other sites that may be affected include the neck, trunk, shoulders, and armpit.
It is important to note a specific form cholesterol is responsible for these changes – LDL cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol is often branded the “bad” cholesterol because it sticks to the inside of your artery walls, thereby raising your risk of heart disease.
Short of symptoms, the only way you can find out whether you have harmful levels of LDL cholesterol is from a blood test.
“Your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high,” explains the NHS.
According to the health body, your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high.
How to lower high cholesterol
Following a formal diagnosis of high cholesterol, you’ll be recommended to to make lifestyle changes reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood.
Diet offers a robust defence against high cholesterol and certain ingredients are essential.
According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, vegetables, pulses (such as peas, beans and lentils), fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains are full of nutrients and good for your cholesterol and your heart.
Eat a variety of healthy sources of protein such as peas, beans, lentils, fish, nuts, chicken and lean red meat,” advises the charity.
Many of these components can be found in a Mediterranean diet, which is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.
In addition to increasing your intake of certain foods, you should avoid others where possible.
The worst culprit is saturated fat – eating too much saturated fat increases the amount of cholesterol in your blood.
As the British Heart Foundation (BHF) explains, processed meats like sausages, ham, burgers all contain saturated fat.
Hidden health risks are hard cheeses including cheddar, whole milk and cream, warns the health charity.
“Use semi-skimmed, one percent or skimmed milk rather than whole or condensed milk,” it advises.
In addition, aim to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week, advises the NHS.
Some good things to try when starting out include:
Walking – try to walk fast enough so your heart starts beating faster