Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance which is naturally present in our blood. Cholesterol is important to have in the body for a number of reasons. Your body needs some cholesterol to make some vital hormones and vitamin D as well as some substances that help you digest your food. Your body is capable of making all the cholesterol it needs.
However, cholesterol is also found in some foods such as meat and dairy among others. If you eat a lot of these foods, your cholesterol levels may become too high.
- Good and Bad Cholesterol: What is the Difference?
- What Causes High Cholesterol?
- How to Treat High Cholesterol?
- Monitoring Your Cholesterol
Good and Bad Cholesterol: What is the Difference?
If you would like to learn in video form, check out my video explaining the difference between HDL and LDL
There are two main types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or good and bad cholesterol.
HDL is known as “good cholesterol”. HDL transports bad cholesterol to your liver to be expelled from the body.
LDL is known as “bad cholesterol”. LDL it takes cholesterol to your arteries, where it may collect in the artery walls.
Too much LDL cholesterol in your arteries may lead to a buildup of plaque known as atherosclerosis. This can increase the risk of blood clots in your arteries. If a blood clot blocks an artery in your heart or brain, you may experience a stroke or heart attack.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
You can be really unlucky and have a family history of high cholesterol, that is to say, a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, aunt, uncle) may suffer from high cholesterol. It could be the case, in this instance, that no amount of dieting or exercise will bring down your cholesterol levels and you may require some medication.
Being overweight or obese is usually defined by having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. Alternatively, having a waist circumference over 40 inches for men or over 35 inches for women can put you at risk of having high cholesterol levels.
A diet that includes large quantities of red meat, full-fat dairy products, saturated fats, trans fats, and processed foods usually puts you at a very high risk of having high cholesterol.
Cigarette smoke damages the walls of your blood vessels, making them more likely to accumulate fatty deposits. Smoking may also lower your level of HDL or “good,” cholesterol.
How to Treat High Cholesterol?
To treat high cholesterol, I would advise my patients to do the following and slightly change some aspects of their lifestyle.
Lifestyle changes such as exercising and eating a healthy diet are the first line of defence against high cholesterol.
The necessary lifestyle changes to begin with include:
- Stop smoking
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly, 3 times a week for 20 mins
- Reduce stress
Monitoring Your Cholesterol
You can get a blood lipid panel from your doctor or you can purchase a convenient and accurate home test from LetsGetChecked. The test is called Heart Check Cholesterol Test. This test requires a finger prick blood sample. It tests for:
- Triglycerides – a type of fat in the blood
- HDL – good cholesterol
- LDL – bad cholesterol
- HDL % of total Cholesterol
Blood lipid panel testing is important to ensure that underlying issues don’t develop into serious health problems. Many cases of heart disease and heart attack/stroke can be avoided with regular testing.
Learn more about your cholesterol with Dr. Dominic Rowley
Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley