There is an established link between high cholesterol levels and erectile dysfunction (ED). Several studies have shown that having high cholesterol is an acute risk factor for a range of health conditions, including ED. It’s a very common condition that’s thought to affect up to 60% of people in the UK.
All people over the age of 40 in the UK are eligible to have a free cholesterol test at their GP surgery. It’s important to take up the offer because high cholesterol can often be symptomless and may go undetected for many years. If left untreated, it can lead to heart attacks, stroke, and ED.
Not all cholesterol is bad for us, but a certain type called low-density lipoprotein (LDLs) can build up in the walls of arteries and cause them to become narrower. This makes it more difficult for blood to flow efficiently around the body. This can lead to serious risks if not enough blood carrying oxygen is able to reach the brain or the heart.
It can also make it more difficult for a sufficient blood supply to reach the penis, which is why ED can often be a warning sign that a man has high cholesterol. Some people have a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol, but it is often caused by lifestyle factors such as eating a diet that is high in saturated fats and not getting enough exercise.
If you take a blood test that returns a high cholesterol result, your doctor may advise you to make some changes to your diet. It can be difficult to do this, especially if you are accustomed to eating a lot of fast food and sugary snacks that can leave us craving more. When you are feeling low on energy it’s all too easy to reach for the biscuit tin.
Here are some easy swaps you can make to bring your cholesterol level down.
Swap a fried breakfast for porridge
A fried sausage or bacon sandwich might be a tasty breakfast, but this should be reserved for an occasional treat rather than a daily habit. Instead, opt for porridge. Oats are full of fibre that helps to absorb cholesterol and will also keep you feeling full, staving off those mid-morning hunger pangs.
Eat more unsaturated fats
Unsaturated fats help to carry ‘bad’ cholesterol back to the liver to be broken down, so it’s important to boost your intake. Good foods to include in your diet are oily fish, avocados, and nuts and seeds.
Swap white bread for brown
By choosing whole-grain brown bread over white, you will boost your fibre intake. Also swap regular pasta for whole grain pasta, and white rice for brown rice or quinoa.
Have at least two meat-free days a week
Plant-based foods are high in fibre and contain no cholesterol. Swap at least two meals a week containing red meat for a vegetarian alternative. Protein-rich pulses, beans and lentils are great alternatives that can be used in stews and casseroles.
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