High cholesterol risks: Do you have a desk job? The surprising factors to be wary of

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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Indeed, the Cleveland Clinic says not moving around enough can play a role in causing high cholesterol. It notes physical activity like aerobic exercise improves your cholesterol numbers, and says if you have a desk job or sit a lot in your free time, your body won’t produce enough “good cholesterol”. If you’re aged 40 to 74, you can get your cholesterol checked as part of an NHS Health Check.

The Mayo Clinic explains when you sit, you use less energy than you do when you stand or move.

It states: “Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns.

“They include obesity and a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that make up metabolic syndrome.”

The organisation says any extended sitting, such as at a desk, behind a wheel or in front of a screen, “can be harmful”.

The Heart Foundation says sitting less and being more active are great ways to reduce high cholesterol.

It explains: “This doesn’t mean you have to join a gym or take up running – it just means you need to move your body more throughout the day. Ideally you should do 30 minutes of activity a day.”

The organisation suggests you could try:

  • Using the stairs not the lift
  • Parking 10 minutes away from your work or getting off the bus a stop early
  • Walking the dog twice around the park instead of once
  • Taking a walk outside during a break at work
  • Having a swim or walk at the beach with family
  • Doing half an hour of gardening or cleaning.

“Any type of movement helps to break up time you may spend sitting. It all counts towards physical activity. Take any opportunity to move your body and aim to be physically active every day.”

If you have a heart condition, or other medical condition, the organisation says you should talk with your doctor before you start to do more physical activity.

The Cleveland Clinic also notes other lifestyle factors and genetics both play a role in causing high cholesterol. Lifestyle factors include:

  • Smoking and tobacco use: Smoking lowers your “good cholesterol” (HDL) and raises your “bad cholesterol” (LDL)
  • Being under a lot of stress: Stress triggers hormonal changes that cause your body to produce cholesterol
  • Drinking alcohol: Too much alcohol in your body can raise your total cholesterol
  • Diet: Some foods may raise or lower your cholesterol. Sometimes healthcare providers will recommend dietary changes or a visit with a nutritionist to discuss your diet.

There are two main types of fat, which are saturated and unsaturated. Eating too many foods high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood.

The NHS says most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat.

Heart UK says: “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.”

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.

Eating plenty of fibre helps lower your risk of heart disease, and some high-fibre foods can help lower your cholesterol.

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 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.”

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