What do you need to know about cholesterol?

Tuesday October 13, 2020
Food, health and exercise help lower cholesterol

. There is both ‘good’ cholesterol and ‘bad’ cholesterol

. Try and limit or even avoid fatty foods as they elevate cholesterol levels

. Remain diligent with diet and exercise and you can minimise risks

Cholesterol is a buzzword that everybody has heard of at one point but possibly doesn’t completely understand as to how it pertains to their body and the role it plays. Over the course of this article we will try and rectify that. The first thing to note is that there is cholesterol that is naturally produced by the body and cholesterol that you get from outside sources through what we eat. These are primarily fatty foods.

The second thing to note is that there is both ‘good’ cholesterol and ‘bad’ cholesterol. It’s one of those sources of matter where you really have to find the right balance. It’s certainly beneficial but too much and it starts to have a negative impact. We will try and help you find that happy medium.  

Cholesterol helps you to produce hormones and build new cells which are important in maintaining the balance of the body. Without adequate levels of cholesterol, cells can become damaged and less effective and hormones may not be produced to a sufficient level which can start to become detrimental.

A balancing act

‘Good’ cholesterol, which is naturally produced, acts as a cleanser to break down fats and clear up the arteries. These are the essential functions that the right levels of cholesterol help serve. It’s when you go over that optimal level that cholesterol then takes on a negative effect. The main issue with high cholesterol is that it clogs the arteries which can restrict blood flow which leads to all sorts of illness and problems.

These include the potential for a ‘heart attack’ which is essentially when the heart doesn’t have the ability to pump adequate levels of blood to all parts of the body. A stroke is another possibility for much the same reason. These are the dangers of ‘high cholesterol’ and why cholesterol often has a negative connotation attached to it because in some cases it literally can be a matter of life and death. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported in 2017 that nearly 30 per cent of all deaths in Australia came from heart disease, with that number being over 43,000 people.

Diet and lifestyle are keys to managing cholesterol

The next thing to consider is how to avoid getting into that danger zone. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take, both in terms of diet and lifestyle, that can help prevent you from putting yourself in unnecessary risk. The first thing we will look at is diet. Two key points are to cut down on are salt and fat. Try to eat less than fifteen grams of fat and six grams of salt per day.

This will not only help you to cut down on your cholesterol but also reduce the risk of high blood pressure. According to the AIHW, one in four men in Australia and one in five women has high blood pressure and this percentage increases with age. An overload of butter, cream, cake, pies and these types of discretionary foods are a sure fire way to see your cholesterol go up. They should be taken with discretion and in moderation.

Where possible, try and replace them with fruit and vegetables. Oats, grain, lentils and fish, particularly salmon are also great alternatives. The quicker you move to a more balanced diet the quicker you can start to manage your cholesterol.

The next change is in regards to lifestyle, specifically an increase in exercise and physical activity. It doesn’t have to be too strenuous but it should be consistent and productive. A walk around the block, a jog once or twice a week, fifteen minutes on a stationary bike are all small pieces that can turn into something bigger. It’s the consistent repetition of multiple small pieces that will go a long way to ensuring that your long term health is not placed in any jeopardy.


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