Even though cholesterol is made in the body, it can be increased by the things we eat. Having high cholesterol is really bad for you as it blocks up the arteries and prevents the blood from going through in the way it should. This can cause heart attack, stroke or other problems such as poor circulation.
There are two kinds of cholesterol; high density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL). The former is good and the latter is bad because this is what gives you the kind of cholesterol that blocks the blood vessels. This is known as plaque and causes the arteries to harden and narrow so the blood flow is restricted, causing heart pain and often, heart attack.
Here are some easy ways to reduce your cholesterol levels so you can be healthier.
- Eat less saturated fats such as that from meat and junk foods.
- Eat more healthy choices such as vegetables fruit and nuts.
- Reduce your intake of processed meats such as sausages, Devon, ham and hot dogs.
- Avoid the skin of chicken.
- Have low fat or no fat option in drinks, cheese and yoghurt.
- Go low on the bought cake and biscuits – home made (not packet cakes) are better.
- Get plenty of exercise. This also helps to lower cholesterol.
It’s important to have your cholesterol levels checked by a doctor. This will be done with a fasting blood test – you just have to not eat or drink overnight and have it first thing in the morning, so it’s not difficult.
If your dietary and lifestyle changes don’t bring it down, it is wise to take the medication prescribed by the doctor. Even then you’ll still need regular check-ups and tests for it.
If you don’t want to take the medication, you could try becoming a vegetarian, or see a dietitian to make even more changes in your diet. Vegetarians rarely have high cholesterol.
You may wonder what is causing that high cholesterol if you have done all the doctor recommends to lower it. There are some factors that increase it over which you have no control.
- Age: as we age, the cholesterol levels increase.
- Gender: women’s cholesterol is generally lower than men’s before menopause, but after that it goes up.
- Genetics: genetics do play a part in whether you have high or low cholesterol levels. You may have an inherited condition where your body doesn’t just doesn’t work to remove enough cholesterol from the blood. This is called familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) – a fancy name for a simple condition that is nonetheless unhealthy and may even be life-threatening.
High cholesterol has no symptoms so it’s wise to get checked for it on a regular basis.