High cholesterol: Doctor reveals the four vegetables that could lower levels

Having high cholesterol means you have too much of a fatty substance known as cholesterol in your blood.

While this might not initially cause any issues, over time it can build up in the blood vessels causing blockages.

If blood is not able to move through the vessels easily it can lead to serious medical issues.

Blockages can result in emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes.

Diet is one of the main factors that can contribute to having high cholesterol.

Foods high in saturated fats are among the biggest causes of high cholesterol.

These include things like butter, cheese, cakes, biscuits and fatty meats.

While diet can cause high cholesterol, it can also help lower it.

Speaking exclusively with Express.co.uk , Professor Ben Kelly from Nuffield Health, recommended eating four vegetables to help lower cholesterol levels.

These vegetables are:

  • Beetroot
  • Rocket (also known as arugula)
  • Spinach
  • Celery.

He explained: “High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage a layer in your vascular structure called the endothelium – this is what is responsible for producing and releasing nitric oxide, which helps the vessels to dilate.

“In some cases, when the endothelium is damaged, not only does it not release enough nitric oxide, but the nitric oxide it does release reacts with the damaged tissue, causing it to do the opposite and contract instead – right when your body needs it to dilate.

“If your blood pressure and cholesterol remain high for a number of years, damage to the endothelium can become severe enough to increase the risks of complications like angina, heart attack and stroke.”

Adding nitrates into your diet could help prevent this from happening he said – which is where these vegetables come in.

“There is a way to promote endothelium function, and that’s by getting as much nitrate into your diet as possible,” Prof Kelly said.

“Lucky for us, root and leafy vegetables are packed full of nitrates.

“The best sources to get nitric oxide from include beetroot, as well as arugula lettuce, spinach, celery and other lettuces.”

Consuming them in the form of juice could be even more beneficial, he said.

Prof Kelly added: “It can be difficult to get enough nitrates – you need around 3.7mg per kg of body weight to make an impact (beetroot contains around 281mg per 100g), so as well as getting those on the plate, concentrated juices can help you make up the difference.

“There’s strong evidence that these nitrate-rich foods and drinks promote vascular health and can have a positive impact on your blood pressure levels.

“Build these into your health plan alongside other good habits like picking up your activity levels and cutting saturated fats from your diet.”

However, he advised speaking to your GP about how to use diet to lower cholesterol.

To lower cholesterol, the NHS recommends eating plenty of:

  • Oily fish, like mackerel and salmon
  • Brown rice, wholegrain bread and wholewheat pasta
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fruits and vegetables.