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3 Essential Facts You Need To Know About Cholesterol Now

What is cholesterol?

right hand pouring oil from a bottle into a container

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in all parts of the body. It's produced in the liver and it helps with digesting and absorbing fats from the food we eat. It's vital for nerve functioning, our skin barrier, and the brain - it’s used in every cell in the human body! Cholesterol is important for making vitamin D.

There are two main types of blood cholesterol (lipoproteins):

  • “Good” cholesterol (high density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol)) - removes cholesterol from blood that you don’t need in the liver. It’s then broken down and excreted.

  • “Bad” cholesterol (non-high-density lipoproteins (non-HDL cholesterol) or low-density lipoproteins (LDL)) - carry cholesterol from the liver to cells in the body. Cholesterol buildup forms plaques that can block/narrow the arteries - this increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Why Do I Have High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol levels are typically due to:

  • High saturated fat intake

  • Genetic conditions

  • Smoking

  • Not exercising enough

  • Too much body fat especially around the waist

  • Some medications

  • Medical conditions such as liver problems

  • Ethnicity

  • Going through the menopause

  • Ageing

left hand holding half an avocado and right hand holding a spoon scooping the avocado with a green bowel containing half an avocado, green chopping board and carrots on a plate in the background

How Can I Lower My Cholesterol Levels?

  • As well as being more active [1] and getting help to quit smoking [2], eating more unsaturated fats (olive oils, avocado, nuts, seeds, and oily fish) instead of saturated fats (fatty cuts of meat, butter, ghee, biscuits, pastries, cheese, coconut oils, and takeaways) can help to reduce cholesterol levels.

  • If you can eat a high-fibre diet, aim for 2 large handfuls of veggies with each meal (why not enjoy as part of a snack too!), switch to wholegrains, go for high-fibre foods (oats, pulses, seeds, and (unsalted) nuts)

  • Compare and read the food labels - follow the ''traffic light'' system. Avoid foods that are high (this will be indicated by red) in saturated fat; these contain more than 5g of saturated fats per 100g. Go for foods that are low (green) in saturates – 1.5g or less per 100g [3].

Too much “bad” (LDL) cholesterol increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases so always go for “good” (HDL) fats. People respond differently to dietary cholesterol, the higher the amount of cholesterol eaten, the higher the blood cholesterol [4]. Currently, there is no robust test to check this so it’s best for all adults to reduce saturated fat intake as much as possible.

Are you worried about your cholesterol levels? Are you confused about how to include more good fats in your diet without gaining weight? Are you struggling on your own and want to kick-start your health journey? Book your free 15 minute discovery call with Mei to find out how she can help!


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