Cholesterol is a type of fat, which can be found in the blood stream. A certain amount of it is required for body function. However, if there is too much circulating in the blood, is can invade the lining of the arteries, which can lead to narrowing. If this happens in the heart, it can lead to a heart attack. If it happens in the brain, it can lead to a stroke.

A lot of your cholesterol is produced by the liver. Some people are genetically pre-disposed to produce more than others. However, extra amounts of cholesterol are obtained by eating too much saturated fats, commonly eaten as animal fats.

There are several types of cholesterol. Two main types are High density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL). HDL’s are commonly called “good” cholesterol, because they are less likely to invade the artery walls. LDL’s are commonly called “bad” cholesterol, because they are more likely to invade the artery walls.

The higher your cholesterol level, the greater the risk of heart disease. If there are other factors present, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or smoking, the risk is much higher. For people with existing heart disease or diabetes, control of cholesterol, as well as other factors, is very important.

Steps to reduce cholesterol:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat oily fish twice per week
  • Eat more fruit, vegetables, and wholegrain cereals, breads, rice, pasta, potatoes
  • Choose lean meats / less animal fat
  • Choose low fat milk, low fat dairy spreads, and eat less of these
  • Eat less of confectionery foods
  • Consider grilling, oven baking instead of frying
  • Live an active lifestyle