Heart attacks happen when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked.
The leading cause of heart attacks is coronary heart disease – a condition in which the major blood vessels supplying the heart get clogged up with deposits of cholesterol.
If the deposits of cholesterol burst, it can cause a blood clot to develop, which may trigger a heart attack.
People with high amounts of cholesterol in their blood can lower it by making certain dietary changes. Heart UK advises incorporating the following four foods into your diet to help reduce cholesterol.
Soya foods are made from soya beans, which contain proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and plant nutrients.
Foods made from soya beans are naturally low in saturated fat – which can contribute to high cholesterol – so try swapping full fat dairy foods, meat and other high saturated fat foods with soya alternatives.
Soya alternatives can include soya milk and yoghurts, soya desserts, soya custard, soya nuts, and soya mince and meat.
Fibre is essential to a healthy diet and is found in all fruits, vegetables and cereals.
Oats and barley contain a special form of soluble fibre called beta glucan, which can help to lower cholesterol.
It works by forming a gel in the gut which can bind with cholesterol rich bile acids and stop them being absorbed into the body.
Nuts contain lots of heart-healthy nutrients like protein, fibre, plant sterols, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, zinc and copper.
They are also naturally rich in unsaturated fat and low in saturated fat, so can help to lower cholesterol.
Sterols and stanols
Sterols and stanols are the plant equivalent of cholesterol and are found in many plant-based foods in very small amounts.
When eaten daily in larger amounts, they can help reduce cholesterol by reducing the amount go cholesterol the body can recycle.
You can find sterols and stanols in fortified foods, such as milk, spreads and yoghurts.
“If your cholesterol is raised, there are treatments available if you need them. But it’s usually possible to lower cholesterol naturally with healthy lifestyle changes,” said Heart UK.