What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance in our body known as a lipid. It is made up mostly by the liver from the fatty foods that we eat in our diet. Contrary to most people’s beliefs, we actually need some cholesterol in our body for it to function correctly. However, having excessively high levels of these fats in our bodies can have a huge impact on our health and significantly increases our risk of heart attack and stroke
Why do we need Cholesterol?
· Make up the outer layer of every cell in the body
· Insulate or coat our nerve fibres
· Make hormones
· Make bile acids which are essential for the digestion and adsorption of fats.
What types of Cholesterol are there?
There are two types of cholesterol in our body that circulate in our blood and they are called LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein).
LDL transports cholesterol from your liver to the cells around your body that need it. Having too much LDL in our blood can be harmful as it can cause a build up of cholesterol in our arteries, leading to disease. This is why LDL is known as bad cholesterol.
HDL carries cholesterol away from cells and back to the liver for removal and this is why it is known as the good cholesterol
What level should my cholesterol be at?
You can have your cholesterol measured by getting a blood test done by your nurse or doctor. Ideally your total cholesterol should be less than 5mmol/L.
What are the risks of having high cholesterol?
There is a huge amount of evidence that shows that having high cholesterol leads to a narrowing of the arteries, heart disease, blood clotting, heart attack and stroke.
Who is at risk?
There are many reasons why you may be at risk of having high cholesterol and they include:
· Unhealthy diet
· Lack of exercise
· Excessive alcohol consumption
· High Blood Pressure
· Family history
· History of stoke or heart disease.
Can lifestyle changes improve my cholesterol?
Diet - Eating a diet that is low in saturated fat can reduce your LDL (bad cholesterol). Foods that contain saturated fat and those that should be avoided include:
· Fatty/processed meat
· Cream/ice cream
· Cakes and biscuits
· Coconut oil, palm oil
By looking at the food labels of what you are purchasing you will be able to see how much saturated fats are in foods.
Men should consume no more than 30g of saturated fat a day and women no more than 20g of saturated fat per day
Is there anything available over the counter to keep my cholesterol low?
It is so important to follow the advice that is given by your doctor and to ask for advice if you are taking other medications or have any underlying illnesses before starting any supplements.
Here are some supplements we stock that will help you lower your cholesterol: