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Cholesterol levels can increase by up to 10% after the Christmas holidays

  • Experts recommend that cholesterol levels should not be more than 200 mg/dl as it is one of the most important risk factors in the development of cardiovascular disease

Controlling high cholesterol is important all year round, but especially after the Christmas period as levels can increase by up to 10% due to excesses in the diet, the Fundación Española del Corazón (FEC or Spanish Heart Foundation), supported by the Sociedad Española de Cardiología (SEC or Spanish Cardiology Society), stressed this week.

In Spain one out of every two people has higher cholesterol than the recommended level, that is, over 200 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl), according to a study of the Nutrition and Cardiovascular Risk in Spain (ENRICA).

The regions most prevalent to high cholesterol are Galicia, the Canary Islands, Extremadura and Murcia. And the areas with below average levels are the Basque Country, Navarra, Madrid and Valencia.

This study has also revealed that over 55 per cent of patients with high cholesterol are “unaware of the problem and don't make any effort to reduce it”.

Because of this, the Foundation advises people to not let their cholesterol go over the recommended amount and to remember high cholesterol is one of the important risk factors in the development of cardiovascular disease.

“The sooner we start to improve our lifestyles, the higher the chance of success. Good habits at the beginning of the year boost self esteem and that helps them become part of our daily routine,” explained Dr Petra Sanz, member of the Council of Experts of the FEC .

The foundation insists that reducing high cholesterol is easier than it seems by just adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle.

The recommendations suggested by the foundation include eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and fibre and low in saturated fats; avoid alcohol and start walking for at least 45 minutes a day, five days a week.

People with high cholesterol should try to include cholesterol reducing foods in their diet such as dairy products enriched with plant sterols.