What is cholestrol?
cholestrol is a lipid, or fat, that is produced in the liver and that is also found in various foods that we eat such as dairy products, meat and eggs. Our body needs cholestrol to be able to function properly and to break down and digest fat. cholestrol is carried around the body in the bloodstream. The body makes about 80% of the cholestrol that it needs, so we do not actually need much cholestrol from our diets.
What is cholestrol to blame for?
Many people have too high an intake of cholestrol and an oversupply of cholestrol is dangerous. High levels of it put us at risk of heart disease. So, what is cholestrol doing to our bodies? Excess cholestrol in the body travels around in the blood and is deposited on the walls of the arteries. Over time, these deposits narrow the arteries and reduce blood flow to vital organs such as the heart. This narrowing of the arteries is called atherosclerosis.
Types of cholestrol
cholestrol can actually be split into two different types. There is good cholestrol, known as HDL or High Density Lipoprotein, and there is bad cholestrol, known as Low Density Lipoprotein. HDL good cholestrol’s job is to help the body get bad cholestrol out of the blood and into the liver to be excreted as waste. LDL bad cholestrol carries cholestrol from the liver in the bloodstream giving it more opportunity to deposit in the arteries.
There is another type of lipid that is carried in the blood, this lipid is called triglyceride. Excess triglycerides are also transported in the blood and have been linked with atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
What is cholestrol measured by?
Doctors use a simple blood test to measure your cholestrol levels. A normal healthy cholestrol level is 190-210mg/dl or 4.9-5.4mmol/l.
What if my cholestrol level is too high?
Recommended advice to lower and control cholestrol is:-
– Start exercise – the best is aerobic exercise.
– Lose weight
– Follow a healthy diet low in saturated fats (bad LDL cholestrol) and high in Omega 3 fatty acids (good HDL cholestrol). These fatty acids can be found in seed oils and oily fish.
– Increase your intake of fibre. Soluble fibre can lower cholestrol levels.
– Take supplements – Niacin (Vitamin B3) can help increase good cholestrol levels and Anti-oxidant vitamins like A, C and E are said to help protect the heart.
– Stop smoking – smoking can increase the oxidation of bad cholestrol which then deposits in the arteries.
What is cholestrol doing to our nation?
Countries such as the US and the UK have a high incidence of heart disease and cholestrol is to blame. It is generally symptomless and it is only when a person starts to have ill health, such as heart problems, that high cholestrol is diagnosed.
Get your cholestrol checked.