What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a natural form of fat made by the human body. It is needed by the cells for use in their internal and external membranes, and the production of hormones. It is also found in animal products such as meats and dairy products, as well as pies and cakes. Although doctors will request you remove these from your diet in a bid to reduce your cholesterol, the scientific community is divided on the impact this will have.
What is High Cholesterol?
The problem with cholesterol comes when our levels become too high, and whilst moderately high levels of 5.5mmol/L-6.5mmol/L can lead to health issues for some, it’s when it passes 6.5mmol/L that your risk of heart disease increases by about 4 times more than someone in the normal range. Whilst not all people with high cholesterol will get heart disease, it is a risk factor so it would be best to play it safe and seek medical treatment.
High cholesterol levels occur more often in those who smoke cigarettes, and those with a family history of hyperlipidaemia.
Why Should I Care?
High blood cholesterol is a risk factor of heart disease, the biggest killer of humans in the western world. It also often has an impact on, and occurs alongside, high blood pressure (or hypertension). High triglyceride levels can also increase the risk of heart disease.
There are no symptoms for high cholesterol. If you are a cigarette smoker, and/or overweight or obese you should have your cholesterol levels checked each year.
There are a range of medications that will reduce cholesterol levels, and many doctors will ask that you modify your diet and follow an exercise program.
As I mentioned earlier, it is still disputed whether modifying your diet will have an impact on your cholesterol levels, but either way it will definitely improve your weight and your health.