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What is cholesterol?

 

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found naturally in the blood. Predominantly produced in the liver, but also found in foods such as red meat, high fat cheese, butter and eggs, Cholesterol is essential for maintaining good health and only becomes a problem when the level in your blood is too high.

 

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Raised cholesterol is a common problem and a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease, however a visit to your healthcare professional and following a healthy diet and lifestyle can help to lower cholesterol levels and will significantly reduce the risk.

 

 

 
 

 

LDL and HDL Cholesterol

  • LDL Cholesterol - known as "bad" cholesterol

    LDL cholesterol is known as "bad" cholesterol and is what you should try to reduce as much as possible.

    LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. When the level of LDL cholesterol in our blood is too high, excess LDL cholesterol can slowly accumulate in the walls of our arteries, making them narrower and less elastic. Over time this increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

    Along with other risk factors, our LDL cholesterol level can be used to predict the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. It is agreed by experts that levels of LDL cholesterol should be kept low.

  • HDL Cholesterol - known as "good" cholesterol

    HDL cholesterol is known as "good" cholesterol - it performs useful functions to protect your heart.

    Unlike LDL, HDL cholesterol is like a hard-working cleaner and is highly beneficial. It picks up cholesterol from the walls of our arteries and carries it back to the liver. Because it manages the bad (LDL) cholesterol, HDL cholesterol is considered protective and is beneficial. That's how we know that this "good" cholesterol is so valuable.

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Total Cholesterol and Triglycerides

 
  • Total Cholesterol

    Total cholesterol is a measure of all cholesterol in the blood, mainly LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.

    The combined total of LDL and HDL cholesterol is often used to estimate our risk of cardiovascular disease. Experts now understand, however, that the LDL cholesterol level is much more informative when it comes to estimating what your risk level is.

  • Triglycerides

    Triglycerides play an important role as energy sources and transporters of fat around the body.

    Most fats found in food and in the body are in the form of triglycerides. Blood triglycerides either come from the fats in our food or they are formed in the body from other nutrients like sugars. An elevated level of triglyceride in the blood is associated with cardiovascular diseases, which is why its level should be kept low.

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How do I know what is the best food to regulate my cholesterol levels?

 

If you want to lead a healthy lifestyle and reduce the chances of encountering cholesterol issues, it’s important to understand what the impact of your diet is on your cholesterol levels. Some healthy foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables and fatty fish can boost your HDL cholesterol levels, while fried food, red meat and saturated fats can increase your LDL cholesterol and should be eaten in moderation.

 

Know Your Number

 

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Every second adult has elevated cholesterol

 

Elevated cholesterol affects people of all ages and backgrounds in the industrialized countries – no matter whether you are young or old, overweight or underweight, or whether you exercise or not. The only way to know what your cholesterol levels are is to have them tested by your doctor or other healthcare professional.

 

What cholesterol level is considered too high?

 

Cholesterol reference values given for healthy individuals in recent international medical guidelines are:

 

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If you have other risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease, the target levels for total and LDL cholesterol are even lower.

 

 

Cholesterol Myths

 

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Myth1

Do only the obese people and elderly need to be concerned?

Causes of high cholesterol include family inheritance, eating habits, and lack of exercise. If an individual consumes saturated fat and trans-fat food regularly, smokes, seldom eats vegetables/ fruit or does not exercise, high cholesterol will often result whatever the body size. Although athletes do a lot of exercise, they may also have high cholesterol if they do not control their diet. With long-term inappropriate diets and the degradation of metabolic function, the elderly may have a higher risk of having cardiovascular disease.

 

 

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Myth 2

Do vegetarians or those on a diet not have cholesterol problems?

Vegetarianism or being on a diet does not necessarily equate to good health. It is more difficult to regulate blood cholesterol with excessive dieting, but consumption of fewer nutrients can cause other health problems. A balanced vegetarian diet is certainly a healthy practice. However, vegetarians, particularly those who consume diets containing significant quantities of fried food or foods high in sugar or fat, can still have cholesterol problems.

 

 

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Myth 3

Will my cholesterol levels stop rising if I stop eating seafood or visceral meat?

70% of cholesterol is produced in the liver whilst 30% comes from your diet. Therefore, moderate consumption of egg or prawns does not have a significant impact on blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fat and trans fats have greater impact on high blood cholesterol so it is important to consider the nutrition information carefully before choosing your food.

 

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