All you need to know about what cholesterol is – and how to deal with high cholesterol.
- Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is naturally present in your blood and cells.
- It is measured in four parts: total cholesterol; LDL (low-density lipoprotein) which is the “bad cholesterol”; HDL (high-density lipoprotein) which is the “good cholesterol”; and triglycerides (a form of fat that the body makes from food sources, such as sugar and alcohol).
- Your body needs some cholesterol for healthy functioning. But many people have too much of the “bad” type and too little of the “good” type.
- In some cases, high cholesterol is inherited, but more often it is the result of an unhealthy lifestyle and too much saturated fat in your diet.
- Having high cholesterol does not cause any physical symptoms that you would be aware of. That’s why it’s often called a silent killer.
- Doctors advise that you have your cholesterol tested at least once a year. If you have diabetes, you’re aiming for an LDL reading of less than 2.8mmol/l.
- People with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes are at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke. This risk increases if your LDL cholesterol is high.
- Many of the things that help to control your diabetes will also help to lower your cholesterol. Four lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference: lose weight; exercise more; avoid saturated fat; quit smoking.
- “Good” HDL cholesterol helps your body get rid of the “bad” LDL cholesterol. Include more healthy monounsaturated fats in your diet to assist this process. These include avocado oil, olive oil, peanut oil, avocados and most kinds of nuts.
- Keep in mind that these lifestyle changes aren’t always enough. Some people may need cholesterol-lowering medication too.