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Cholesterol Levels Soar 20% Over Christmas: Expert Reveals 4 Ways to Get Healthy

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Recent research has revealed that low-density lipoprotein (LDL), considered “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries, spikes by 20% in the days after Christmas. That’s due to the amount of rich foods that we eat over the holiday.

Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan (MBChB), clinical lead at London Medical Laboratory, says: “Researchers at Copenhagen University Hospital and the University of Copenhagen detected this post-Christmas spike in a recent study of 2,500 people. Just like us Brits, the Danes love their Christmas roasts and creamy deserts.

“The paper revealed that the risk of having elevated cholesterol is six times higher after the Christmas break. However, the research suggests that high cholesterol levels following Christmas can be temporary, with New Year diets and fitness regimes bringing levels back down again.

“These findings are reflected in London Medical Laboratory’s own cholesterol test results, which have recorded notably higher levels in late December and January compared to other times of the year.

“The good news is that our top four New Year’s resolutions can help people not only undo the damage but actually improve their health. That’s especially true if done in conjunction with simple finger-prick blood tests, which can track and monitor progress by checking essential biomarkers.”

1. Lose weight and keep it off

Losing just 5% of our body weight can help lower the risk of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. There’s even a free NHS weight loss plan app available to help Brits start healthier eating habits, be more active, and lose weight.

In conjunction with a sensible diet plan, people wanting to improve their fitness levels may want to consider a heart health profile test. Such checks have been shown to indicate risks to the heart’s health. They should include tests for inflammation and diabetes, revealing how well the body controls blood sugar.

2. Return to healthier foods

Good health is not just about eating less; it’s also about eating the right things. January is the time to return to more healthy foods. Fruit and vegetables, in particular, are low in calories and fat, high in fibre and provide rich sources of vitamins and minerals. In terms of lowering cholesterol, there are even spreads and yoghurts containing plant-based chemicals called sterols and stanols that can actually reduce our LDL “bad” cholesterol levels.

As well as a healthier diet, consider taking a simple finger-prick cholesterol test. This test can indicate the risk of developing cardiovascular problems.

3. Get off the sofa and exercise

Let’s be realistic. Not all of us have the kind of lifestyle that involves visiting a gym every day. However, there are resolutions that are easier to keep, such as sitting less and moving more. Simple steps include parking further away from the entrance to the supermarket and even revisiting those Covid lockdown “stairobics”. Recent research from the University of Sydney shows even three 20-second fast stair climbs a day can improve fitness in only six weeks.

For those hardier souls who are considering starting a fitness programme, perhaps at a local gym, there are specialist sports fitness finger-prick blood tests available. They should include a full blood count, liver and kidney function, iron levels, ferritin, heart and muscle enzymes, plus vitamins and testosterone levels.

4. Keep on track

If someone hasn’t exercised in years, signing up for the London marathon isn’t realistic. Tracking our success keeps us informed and motivated. If our goal is to be more active, a wearable fitness tracker can help. It can be supplemented by the regular use of blood tests to monitor fitness and general health.

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