LIFESTYLE

16 Foods That Can Help Lower Your Cholesterol

17/06/2014 12:15 BST | Updated 17/06/2014 12:59 BST

You may be surprised to know that the UK's biggest killer isn't cancer, but coronary heart disease, causing around 82,000 deaths each year. About one in five men and one in eight women die from the disease.

High cholesterol (LDL) is one of the major contributing factors towards it because it contributes to the narrowing of the arteries, heart attacks, strokes and mini-strokes.

About half of all heart attacks are caused by raised cholesterol. Cholesterol levels also increase the risk of stroke, angina and other circulatory diseases.

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According to the British Heart Foundation over half of the UK population have high cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance which is made in the body by the liver but is also found in some foods. It plays a vital role in how every cell works and is also needed to make Vitamin D, some hormones and bile for digestion.

Although cholesterol is essential for us to function, having too much in the blood can be dangerous.

Smoking, having diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension) and having a family history of stroke or heart disease can all increase your risk of having high cholesterol.

But the most common factor increasing the nation's cholesterol is diet.

According the the NHS eating a lot of saturated fat will raise cholesterol.

You should try to swap food containing saturated fat for fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals if you are worried about your current level.

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Research has shown some foods can actually directly lower cholesterol by delivering soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system, giving you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL or containing plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.

These are the healthy foods we're talking about...