Cholesterol - Are you at Risk?

Cholesterol - Are you at Risk?

Looking after your health

We hear about cholesterol more frequently. Do we really know what it is? Do you know if you are at risk or if your family has a history of high cholesterol?

Cholesterol levels in the blood are a clear mark of an individual's risk of heart disease.
Other factors can be involved such as smoking, obesity, your overall diet as well as a lack of exercise but cholesterol is of crucial importance.

We do need cholesterol for our body's cells, but we do not need to consume it as we can manufacture this ourselves from the other fats we eat.

So if you have had a bad cholesterol report, what can you do?

If you cut down on the overall saturated fat you get in your diet - such as deep fried foods, chips, donuts and animal products with a high fatty content, this can usually help in a great way. If the dietary cholesterol intake is lowered this does not usually do too much to alter the overall level of your cholesterol.

Cholesterol circulates through the body attached to either Low-density Lipoproteins (LDL'S) or High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL'S). LDL's are the ones we DON'T want and it is of utmost importance that those who suffer with high levels of LDL in their bloodstream are those at the highest risk of heart disease. High Levels of HDL in the blood however suggest a reduced risk of heart disease.

Foods that contain high cholesterol but little other saturated fats appear to make little difference to blood cholesterol levels.

If you suffer with high cholesterol then invest in a healthier diet containing those in high soluble fibre. Fill your trolley with oats (porridge), dried fruit, grapefruit and plant foods. These all encourage the body to eliminate excess cholesterol.

Also try to eat foods with high levels of anti-oxidants. Even though these foods do not significantly change levels of cholesterol, it is thought that antioxidants can help prevent the LDL's (the bad cholesterol) from oxidation; a reaction which is thought to increase risk of heart disease even further.

So buy less Meat and stack up on the fruit and vegies and also make sure to get your cholesterol levels checked regularly! And most importantly, keep stress levels to a minimum if you do suffer with high-cholesterol and try to exercise as much as you can.

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- Michelle Palmer