High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
High cholesterol is when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. Not all cholesterol spells bad news – the one to watch is LDL cholesterol. This type of cholesterol is branded the “bad” cholesterol because it can stick to the inside of your artery walls; a mechanism that can trigger a heart attack.
Partly what makes high cholesterol so lethal is that the process often goes undetected.
High cholesterol does not usually present any visible warning signs, which makes it highly pernicious and deadly.
However, research has found an association between high cholesterol levels and psoriasis symptoms.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales.
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Psoriasis patients often have high cholesterol levels because of a class of immune cells that link hyperlipidemia with the development of psoriasis symptoms.
Hyperlipidemia means your blood has too many lipids (or fats), such as cholesterol.
Evidence gathered in animal studies strengthens this association.
Chyung-Ru Wang, PhD, a professor of Microbiology-Immunology, and her team examined a strain of mice with specific immune cells, called self-lipid—reactive T-cells, and high levels of cholesterol (hyperlipidemia), in their blood.
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The researchers noticed the mice with hyperlipidemia began developing skin diseases mirroring the usual development of psoriasis in humans.
“To our surprise, these mice spontaneously developed skin lesions, which were caused by the activation of self-lipid reactive T-cells only under conditions of hyperlipidemia,” the researchers said in a statement.
“The skin disease closely matched the symptoms and progression of psoriasis in humans.”
Scientists in the past have acknowledged a potential association between psoriasis and high cholesterol, but Wang’s study explores a new link that has not previously been explained or explored.
In another experiment by Wang and her team, blood samples of human psoriasis patients were investigated.
The researchers found increased levels of the same self-lipid—reactive T-cells in the patients with psoriasis compared to those without.
“As a large proportion of psoriatic patients are dyslipidemic, this finding is of clinical significance and indicates that self-lipid—reactive T-cells might serve as a possible link between hyperlipidemia and psoriasis,” the authors wrote in the study.
Dyslipidemia is the term for unbalanced or unhealthy cholesterol levels.
How to lower high cholesterol
To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat.
As the NHS explains, saturated fat increased LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.
You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat.
You can get a plentiful supply of unsaturated fat by following the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.
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