Brits urged to boost heart health by avoiding processed foods
A diet expert has advised Britons to cut down on processed foods, as doing so should keep their cholesterol levels low and their heart healthy.
Linda Main, dietician at Heart UK - The Cholesterol Charity, said eating foods that are high in salt, sugars and saturated fats can contribute to an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
This is because saturated and trans fats increase LDL cholesterol - also known as bad cholesterol - which collects in the walls of blood vessels and narrows the arteries.
In addition, consuming too much salt has been linked to increases in blood pressure and a higher risk of stroke and heart attacks.
"A good diet, rich in fruit, vegetables, wholegrain cereals and low in saturated fat and salt is a key part of managing raised cholesterol," Ms Main commented.
Many people may choose private health care services for help with heart problems, but the dietician claimed heart disease is a largely preventable problem.
"Just by normalising all cholesterol and other blood fats in the UK we could probably half all first heart attacks," she explained.
Obesity is another major risk factor for coronary risk disease, with a new study by researchers at the University of Bristol examining the relationship between heart conditions and body mass index (BMI).
It found that an increase in BMI of around 4kg/m2 across a person's lifetime will heighten the risk of developing ischemic heart disease by 50 per cent on average.
"In light of rising obesity levels, these findings are fundamental to improving public health," said Dr Nicholas Timpson, lecturer in genetic epidemiology at the university's School of Social and Community Medicine.
Ms Main said abdominal fat is a particular concern when evaluating risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Nearly one-quarter of adults in the UK were classified as obese (with a BMI of 30kg/m2 or over) in 2008.