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The organisation notes: “Cholesterol is only found in foods that come from animals, there is no cholesterol in foods that come from plants. So, there is no cholesterol in fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, beans, peas and lentils.” Indeed, diet can play an important role in lowering your cholesterol. We need some cholesterol to stay healthy, though there are some forms and quantities which are considered bad for us.
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.
The NHS says: “To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat. You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat.”
The Mayo Clinic says it is also a good idea to eliminate trans fats. It explains trans fats, sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”, are often used in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes.
READ MORE: High cholesterol: Two visual clues on your face – ‘it’s a sign you have high cholesterol’
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.
The cholesterol blood test measures your levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and your total cholesterol to HDL ratio.
Your total cholesterol should be 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults or 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk.
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.
You may also need medicine if you’re at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, according to the NHS.
Statins are the most common medicine for high cholesterol, according to the NHS.
Statins work by reducing the amount of cholesterol your body makes.
The NHS says: “Like all medicines, statins can cause side effects. But most people tolerate them well and do not have any problems.
“You should discuss the benefits and risks of taking statins with your doctor before you start taking the medicine.”