Today, many people are concerned about their cholesterol levels, and not without cause. We eat fatty food, smoke, drink alcohol and lead over-stressed lives – all things which contribute to an elevated cholesterol count.
By making a few small changes, though, it is possible to lower cholesterol levels and, by doing so, reduce the risk of heart disease.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat that is essential for building and maintaining cell membranes and producing certain hormones. It is transported around the body by the blood in substances called lipoproteins.
Where Does it Come From?
Cholesterol in the body comes from two sources – the food we eat and the cholesterol produced by the liver, intestines, adrenal glands and reproductive organs. On average we eat about 200mg of cholesterol a day. However, our bodies themselves produce much more – around 1000mg per day.
Why is it Bad?
High levels of blood cholesterol are associated with increased risk of heart disease. For instance, a person with a cholesterol level of 4 mmol/L is four times less likely to get heart disease than someone with a cholesterol level of 6.5 mmol/L.
Types of Cholesterol
Cholesterol can’t dissolve in blood and so is transported in particles called lipoproteins. It is the type of lipoprotein that determines whether cholesterol is either “good” or “bad”.
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
The so-called “bad” cholesterol. LDL carries cholesterol through the body and deposits it on the walls of the arteries. Over time these deposits for arterial plaque which gradually blocks the arteries and causes cardiovascular disease.
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
HDL performs just the opposite action. It travels the body, picking up cholesterol from arterial walls and transporting it to the liver where it is disposed of through the bile.
Obviously, the higher your HDL and the lower your LDL the less you’re at risk of heart disease.
Reduce Your Cholesterol Level
One of the most effective ways to lower your cholesterol is to reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat. Here are a few suggestions:
- Eat less cheese and butter – try low fat substitutes.
- Choose lean cuts of meat.
- Remove the skin from chicken.
- Avoid pies, sausage rolls, commercial baked goods and junk food.
- Use polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils for cooking and salads. Olive oil helps increase good HDL levels.
- Use trim milk rather than full-fat.
Giving up smoking and limiting your alcohol intake will reduce cholesterol levels, as will losing weight and regular aerobic exercise.
Your Heart is in Your Hands
You only have one cardiovascular system, treat it with respect and chances are you’ll live a long and healthy life. Abuse it with fatty food, alcohol, cigarettes and stress and you may well find yourself with clogged arteries and a sadly reduced lifespan. Simple things like cutting down harmful fats and doing a bit of exercise could add years to your life.How to Lower Your Cholesterol,