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Cholesterol

By Julie Mansfield | 25th Apr, 2017

Did you know that 2 in every 3 adults in the UK have high cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid and is vital for the normal functioning of the body. It is mainly made by the liver but can also be found in some foods.

Having an excessively high level of cholesterol in your blood, can have an effect on your health.

High cholesterol itself does not cause any symptoms, but it increases your risk of serious health conditions.

 

About Cholesterol

Cholesterol is carried in your blood by proteins, and when the two combine they are called lipoproteins. There are harmful proteins (LDL) and protective lipoproteins known as HDL, or ‘bad’ and ‘good’ cholesterol.

 

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL – Lots of Dirty Lard): LDL carries cholesterol from your liver to the cells that need it. If there is too much cholesterol for the cells to use, it can build up in the artery walls, leading to disease of the arteries. For this reason, LDL cholesterol is known as “bad cholesterol”.

 

  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL – Hoovers): HDL carries cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, where it is either broken down or passed out of the body as a waste product. For this reason, it is referred to as “good cholesterol” and higher levels are better.

 

 

What should my cholesterol levels be?

Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, shortened to mmol/L

As a general guide, total cholesterol levels should be:

  • 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults

 

And for LDL levels: –

  • 3mmol/L or less for healthy adults

 

What causes high cholesterol?

There are many factors that can increase your chance of having heart problems or stroke if you have high cholesterol, including the following:

 

  • an unhealthy diet: some foods already contain cholesterol (known as dietary cholesterol) but it is the amount of saturated fat in your diet which is more important
  • smoking: a chemical found in cigarettes called acrolein, stops HDL transporting fatty deposits to the liver, leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • having diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • having a family history of stroke or heart disease

 

How can I lower my cholesterol levels?

The first step in reducing cholesterol is to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. It is important to keep your diet low in fatty food. Try to substitute food containing saturated fat for fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals. This will also help to prevent high cholesterol from returning. – 5% rule.

Other lifestyle changes can also make a big difference. It will help to lower your cholesterol if you:

 

  • Quit smoking
  • Perform regular physical exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Decrease the intake of saturated fats (meat, meat products, butter and cream)
  • Ensure your diet provides a good supply of omega 3 fatty acids by eating oily fish, dark green leafy vegetables. (polyunsaturated)
  • Steam or grill as opposed to frying
  • If frying use oil sparingly
  • Try and eliminate butter and margarine
  • Limit creamy sauces and opt for tomato based sauces
  • Cut visible fat and skin off meat

 

Eggs

It is true that eggs are high in cholesterol, however….our body does not absorb it.

The liver actually produces large amounts of cholesterol every single day. When we eat more eggs, the liver just produces less cholesterol instead, so it evens out

 Bottom Line: Eggs are high in cholesterol, but eating eggs does not have adverse effects on cholesterol in the blood for the majority of people.