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What is cholesterol?

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance found in the blood which can clog up arteries and blood vessels if there is too much. Cholesterol is needed for the body to build healthy cells, but high levels can cause health problems.

What is LDL and HDL?

Firstly, cholesterol is made by the liver to make hormones, vitamin D, and to support digestion. The body also gets cholesterol through foods that contain cholesterol. The body has lipoproteins to carry the cholesterol around the body. 

In simple terms, LDL is 'bad' cholesterol and HDL is 'good' cholesterol. LDL stand for low density lipoprotein and these make up most of your body's cholesterol. LDL is considered 'bad cholesterol' as it takes cholesterol to the arteries which can cause them to narrow if there is too much cholesterol. HDL is considered 'good cholesterol' as it transports cholesterol to the liver to be used up, and helps to get rid of excess cholesterol.

What are the risks of high cholesterol levels?

High levels of cholesterol cause the arteries to narrow, which will limit your blood flow which can lead to blood clots. It increases the chances of having a stroke or heart attack and is also linked to high blood pressure as the heart has to work harder to pump blood through narrow vessels.

How can I lower my cholesterol?

  • Eat a healthy diet

  • Eat food with unsaturated fats like oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados

  • Reduce overall fat intake by switching from frying to baking, grilling or steaming when cooking

  • Eat plenty of fibre

  • Exercise regularly

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