Cholesterol is Not That Bad
Cholesterol is an important fatty substance, or lipid, essential for our body’s cell membranes and for hormone production. It is made in the liver but it can also be found in a number of foods.
Cholesterol is insoluble in water; therefore it is carried throughout the body by attaching itself to proteins. When combined, they are called lipoproteins. There are two relevant types of lipoproteins: LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol.
If you have extremely high total and LDL cholesterol levels, it can negatively impact your health; especially when combined with smoking and a high blood pressure. You may not even know you have high cholesterol as it doesn’t cause any symptoms on its own. It can however, increase the risk of developing heart disease or stroke.
What is High Cholesterol?
Increased cholesterol levels can cause fatty deposits – also known as plaques – to build up inside your arteries. Over time this can narrow your arteries, restricting blood flow to your heart and other important organs. This can potentially cause a pain in your chest (angina).
If one of the plaques inside your arteries bursts, it can cause a blood clot, cutting off the blood supply to your heart resulting in a heart attack. If it cuts off the blood supply to your brain, it can cause a stroke.
Types of Cholesterol
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
High-Density Lipoprotein is typically referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol as it helps to remove excess cholesterol from your blood vessels, by transporting cholesterol to your liver from your tissues. The cholesterol is then safely broken down and removed in the liver. HDL therefore aids the prevention of cholesterol build-up in your blood vessels, helping to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
Low-Density Lipoprotein transports cholesterol around your body from your liver to wherever it is needed. However, if your LDL levels are too high, it can be deposited in your arteries, thus increasing the risk of stroke and heart disease. This is why LDL is often referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Here’s 5 Simple Measures to Keep Cholesterol Under Control?
- Quitting smoking can help improve your HDL cholesterol levels. In addition, your blood pressure, risk of heart attack and heart disease will decrease too
- Exercising on a regular basis can help lower your cholesterol levels regardless of a change in weight. In many cases, around 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week has been proven to improve cholesterol
- Opting for foods that contain unsaturated (good) fats include:
- Oily fish like mackerel, herring, salmon
- Nuts such as walnuts, cashews, almonds
- Healthy oils including olive, walnut, sesame seed, avocado, sunflower
- Seeds such as pumpkin
- Artificial Trans Fats should be avoided and are typically found in processed foods that contain hydrogenated fats, such as cakes and biscuits and ready meals
- When cooking, instead of frying or roasting, try grilling, steaming, boiling or poaching
- High-fibre foods can help reduce the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream as cholesterol attaches to the fibre and is transported directly to the liver, where it can be safely removed. Foods that are high in fibre include: oats, beans/pulses and vegetables/fruit