IF YOU want to avoid developing heart disease, keeping your cholesterol levels under control is a great place to start. Although high cholesterol is usually symptomless, a subtle “change” on your face can be a telltale sign.
High cholesterol is when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. Flooding the body with cholesterol hikes the risk of a blockage in your arteries. This complication can trigger a heart attack and other cardiovascular-related problems.
Due to its absence of symptoms, a blood test is needed to confirm high cholesterol.
However, the body can occasionally throw out perceptible warning signs, some which can show up in your eyes.
One telltale sign can be spotted in your cornea – the dome-shaped, clear structure in front of your iris.
According to health body Allegro Optical, “you may have noticed a white ring around the outer edge of your cornea, but the colour change may also appear as if your iris has some discolouration”.
The health body continues: “This white ring is called an arcus and it may appear without the presence of high cholesterol.”
As Allegro Optical explains, an arcus can appear as part of the natural ageing process of the eye, but anyone, whatever their age, can develop an arcus from high cholesterol levels.
“During an eye test, our optometrists will study the front surface of your eye including your cornea.”
It is important to note that the most reliable indicator of high cholesterol levels is to get a blood test.
“Your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high,” explains the NHS.
According to the health body, this may be because of your age, weight or another condition you have (like high blood pressure or diabetes).
If high cholesterol is confirmed, you’ll usually be required to overhaul your lifestyle to lower your levels.
There are several foods which are not just part of a healthy diet, they can actively help to lower your cholesterol too.
Cutting down on saturated fat and replacing some of it with unsaturated fats is a great way to lower your cholesterol, says cholesterol charity Heart UK.
Many foods contain saturated fat, especially animal foods such as meat, butter and dairy products, and foods that are made with them, such as cakes and biscuits.
They’re also found in some plant foods including coconut oil and palm oil.
Instead, you should opt for plant-based fat spreads and oils, oily fish, nuts and seeds, advises Heart UK.
“When you’re shopping, check the labels of products to see how much fat they contain and how much they will add up to the daily maximum,” says the health body.
“Look at the total fat and the saturated fat. Saturated fat might be written as ‘sat fat’ or ‘saturates’.”
You should also:
- Choose foods that have more unsaturated than saturated fats
- Go for foods that are labelled green or amber for saturated fat
- Some foods that are high in fat such as oily fish, nuts, oils and spreads may be red for saturated fat. This is OK because these foods contain a higher proportion of the healthy unsaturated fats
- Per 100g of food – low-fat is 3g or less and low saturated fat is 1.5g or less
- Per 100g of food – high fat is 17.5g or more and high saturated fat is 5g or more.