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In part 1, we reminded you of the principles of healthy eating, offered some advice on how to keep reaching your five a day and how to shop and store food effectively. In this blog, we focus on what else you can do to help manage your cholesterol and offer some tips on maintaining healthy habits in this difficult time.

Try to stick to healthy habits

It is important to manage unhealthy behaviours e.g. not smoking and keeping an eye on your alcohol intake, as both have an impact on heart health. Similarly, as tempting as it may be to reach for the biscuit barrel, do try to stick to healthy snacks – why not try hummus and oatcakes, fresh fruit with yogurt or dried fruit and nuts.

Try to maintain a healthy weight by eating the right amount of food and keeping an eye on your portions. Gaining weight can lead to increased cholesterol levels.

Physical activity

It is more important than ever to stay active, for both our physical and mental health, so do make the most of your daily exercise. As well as walks or cycle rides around your local area, you could try an online yoga class or even badminton or frisbee in the garden! Tasks around the house such as cleaning, gardening and DIY all count too. Try to get at least 30 minutes activity on most days of the week if you can.

Getting out in the fresh air and the sunshine has untold benefits on our health. However, you may be unable to get outside as much as usual now. And during the winter months we aren't able to generate vitamin D from sunlight. Therefore the NHS advises that we should take 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D a day between October and early March to keep bones and muscles healthy.

What else can I do to help manage my cholesterol?

As well as general healthy eating principles, e.g. replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats which can reduce cholesterol, there are certain ingredients in foods that can help manage cholesterol. For example, Flora ProActiv contains added plant sterols, an active ingredient which is clinically proven to lower cholesterol. A daily consumption of 1.5-2.4g plant sterols can lower cholesterol by 7-10% in 2-3 weeks as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle with sufficient fruit and vegetables.*

This amount can be found in three servings of Flora ProActiv spread (a serving is 10g or two teaspoons), three servings of Flora ProActiv milk (a serving is a 250ml glass) or a combination of the two. Alternatively, the Flora ProActiv mini drink contains 2g of plant sterols, so one mini drink a day contains the recommended daily amount of plant sterols that are proven to lower cholesterol. For best results, the mini drink should be consumed with a main meal. It is important to keep consuming plant sterols or cholesterol will go back to previous levels within 2-3 weeks so try to plan ahead if possible.

Oats and barley contain beta-glucans which can also help lower cholesterol levels.** Oats are a tasty filling breakfast – you can make them into porridge, have them with yogurt and your favourite fresh fruit or even blend them into a homemade smoothie.

* Flora ProActiv contains plant sterols. Plant sterols have been shown to lower blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. Consuming 1.5-2.4g of plant sterols per day can lower cholesterol by 7-10% in 2-3 weeks when consumed as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle with sufficient fruit and vegetables.

** Oat beta-glucan has been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. The beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 3g of oat beta-glucan.