Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the body which can be split into two types – HDL stands for high-density lipoproteins and LDL stands for low-density lipoproteins. LDL is labelled ‘bad’ cholesterol because high levels can lead to a build up in the arteries. It’s important to have some cholesterol in the body, but high levels can cause arteries to narrow, increasing the risk of serious health complications like heart attack and stroke.
The essential fatty acid lecithin has been found to have a positive impact on high cholesterol levels
A diet high in saturated fat can cause ‘bad’ cholesterol build-up, so eating less is one of the first steps you should take.
But some research has shown eating more of a different type of fatty substance can help reduce cholesterol levels.
The essential fatty acid lecithin has been found to have a positive impact on high cholesterol levels.
Scientists believe it may raise levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad cholesterol).
A 2009 study found participants who took 500mg a day of lecithin had 56 per cent lower LDL cholesterol after two months.
Holland & Barrett explains what it is: “Lecithin is a fatty substance found in the cells of your body, plant and animal tissues.
“It’s made up of fatty acids, and in particular one type of fat molecule called phospholipids – an essential element of cell membranes.”
Lecithin occurs naturally in certain foods including:
- Egg yolks
But it’s also available in supplement form.
There’s no reference nutrient intake (RNI) for lecithin so read the label of any supplements carefully.
Another supplement which could help reduce cholesterol levels is spirulina.
In a 2018 meta-analysis of research, Chinese scientists found spirulina supplements to have a “favourable effect” on improving LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels (a type of fat in the blood).
Spirulina was also found to help reduce blood glucose levels, which led the team to the conclusion it could be considered in the “prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease in humans.”
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that grows in freshwater ponds and lakes.
There is no official recommended daily dosage for spirulina, but studies have found between 1-8g a day could be effective.
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