Cholesterol – Part 2

Cholesterol – Part 2

 

After my last article on lowering cholesterol, a number of people had asked me for a little more Heart and measuring tapeinformation regarding what exactly a healthy level should be. Before we answer that question we must examine the different types of cholesterol.

 Types of Cholesterol

Cholesterol must be transported from the liver where it is made to the tissues where it is needed. However it cannot dissolve in blood, so it must be transported through your bloodstream by carriers called lipoproteins made up of fat (lipid) and proteins. The two types of lipoprotein that carry cholesterol to and from cells are low-density lipoprotein LDL  and high-density lipoprotein or HDL.

 

 LDL Cholesterol

LDL transports cholesterol from the liver around the body in the bloodstream. It is known as the ‘bad’ type. High levels of LDL, together with other substances can cause plaques (fatty deposits) to build up on artery walls. Over time this can result in hardening and narrowing of the artery, known as ‘atherosclerosis’, and this causes restriction of blood flow to the heart and other organs. The plaque may also break away from the arterial wall and causing a clot to form. If either of these occurs and blocks the artery a heart attack or stroke may result.

LDL and HDL Cholesterol in artery

 HDL Cholesterol

HDL cholesterol is considered ‘good’ as it acts as a scavenger of LDL cholesterol, removing it from the arteries and carrying it back to the liver to be broken down and excreted from the body. A healthy level of HDL may protect against heart attack and stroke while low levels of HDL are predictive of high risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

Your cholesterol level can be measured by your doctor. If a family member has high cholesterol, heart disease or has had a stroke it’s important to ask your doctor to do this test. If your results show a level of greater than 5 mmol/l (millimoles per litre, the measurement used for cholesterol levels) or your doctor has concerns about your HDL and LDL they may arrange for you to have a more detailed test.

 

Healthy Levels

So what are healthy levels of cholesterol in mmol/l?

Temperature Gauge

If your total cholesterol if higher than 5 then you should aim to reduce it.

 

You should be aiming to keep your LDL cholesterol level under 3 and keep your HDL more than 1.

 

However if you already have heart disease or diabetes and another risk factor then you should be aiming to keep total cholesterol less than 4.5 and LDL less than 1.8.

 

If your levels are not within these ranges then look to:

  • limit intake of refined sugars and processed foods
  • get down to a healthy weight
  • be more physically activeFruit and Vegetables
  • eat oily fish twice weekly
  • increase fibre intake
  • take more cholesterol lowering foods (see last week’s article)
  • stop smoking
  • there is disagreement whether fat intake does or does not impact cholesterol level, but it is worth keeping in mind that it may and that decreasing fat intake could have a positive impact

 

 

More Information

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Or contact the clinic for details

Liam Leech, BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, MSc. ANutr.

Liam Leech

BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, MSc. ANutr.

 

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