High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Cholesterol: What is it?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like material that’s present in every cell of your body. It’s necessary to keep your body functioning properly. However, having too much cholesterol can lead to poor health.
The body deposits excess cholesterol into the arteries. It builds up into plaque, in a process that blocks arteries (atherosclerosis). This damage can lead to cardiovascular disease – the world’s leading cause of death. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
High cholesterol often has no symptoms, so it’s important to get your cholesterol level checked at least once every 5 years. You may need a check more often if you have diabetes or your family has a history of heart disease or high cholesterol.
There are two types of cholesterol, which are sometimes referred to as “good” and “bad” cholesterol. An excess of “bad”cholesterol can lead to disease, whereas high levels of the “good” one can help keep you healthy
- GOOD: HDL (High-density lipoproteins): The higher your HDL levels, the better
- BAD: LDL (Low-density lipoproteins): Lower your LDL level for optimal health
Steps for Maintaining a Healthy Level of Cholesterol
Consider your diet.
Eating saturated or trans fats increases the amount of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol your body produces. Improve your cholesterol levels by eating less:
• High-fat dairy products
• Chips/crisps/french fries
• Egg yolks
Maintain a healthy weight.
Being overweight tends to increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lower HDL (“good”) levels.
Get physically active.
Regular physical activity can help prevent weight gain and lower cholesterol levels. Moderate activity for 30 minutes a day, most days of the week, can make a significant difference.
Use medication as prescribed.
People with high cholesterol may be prescribed medications to help them control their levels. Medication is most effective when used in combination with a healthy diet and regular physical activity.