Cholesterol – know what’s good for you

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance (known as a lipid) that is essential for the normal functioning of the body. It is synthesised by the liver but also found in foods that we all consume on a daily basis. Having a high amount of lipids in your blood can have an adverse effect on your health and wellbeing and can increase your risk of a stroke, heart attack and various other cardiovascular diseases.

A lipoprotein is the term used to describe the combination of cholesterol and proteins and is how the cholesterol is transported in the blood. There are two main types of lipoprotein; high density (HDL) and low density (LDL). HDL is commonly referred to as ‘good cholesterol’ as it takes the cholesterol back to the liver to be broken down. LDL is sometimes referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’ as, if there is too much present after being carried to the cells, it can build up in the artery walls increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Your total cholesterol

is a mixture of both and can be measured with a simple finger prick test. If cholesterol builds up in the walls of your arteries it can restrict the blood flow to your vital organs, such as your heart and brain, and increases the risk of developing a blood clot. This in turn increases your risk of a heart attack, stroke, transient ischaemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke) and peripheral arterial disease.

Other factors that can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease are high blood pressure, an unhealthy diet (eating a lot of saturated fats), being overweight, smoking, having diabetes, family history of heart disease or stroke. If you have high cholesterol then you should consider changing your diet to one that is low in cholesterol.

Foods low in Cholesterol:

  • Oily Fish
  • Wholegrain Cereals
  • Wholegrain Bread
  • Avocados 
  • Potatoes with Skins 
  • Fruit & Vegetables
  • Nuts 
  • Beans & Lentils 
  • Oats & Barley

Foods high in Cholesterol: 

  • Sausages 
  • Eggs 
  • Prawns
  • Cream 
  • Hard Cheeses 
  • Cakes & Biscuits