Cholesterol is a substance which is found in every part of us, it is waxy in appearance and your body uses it to make vitamin D, hormones, bile and a number of other substances. It is a vital part of our physiology, but your body is able to produce all the cholesterol it needs naturally.
There are two types of cholesterol; the first is low density lipoprotein, it is also known as LDL. This has been identified as “bad” cholesterol because it conveys cholesterol around your body and can deposit it in your arteries. High density lipoprotein, also known as HDL is seen as “good”; it soaks up cholesterol and transfers it to your liver, where it is expelled from your system.
Problems can arise when an unhealthy lifestyle causes a build up of “bad” cholesterol. In time, it may become embedded in arterial walls and form plaques, causing a hardening of the arteries and constricting the blood vessels. As the blood-rich area in and around the heart is usually affected, this process can cause heart disease and in some cases a heart attack
Some indicators of risk, such as age and family history, cannot be changed, but there are other contributory factors that are controllable.
Smoking is known to intensify the effects of high cholesterol; it places a strain on your heart and lungs, but also spreads toxins throughout your body. Giving up smoking is not easy and there’s no ideal time to quit, but medical help is available to get you through the difficult first months.
Even gentle exercise has been shown to improve the outlook for patients with high cholesterol, this can be as simple as walking, swimming or cycling. To see a marked difference in your cholesterol level, most experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderately intensive activity every week. If you’re pushing yourself hard enough, you should feel your heart-rate and body heat increasing.
Being overweight speeds the production of “bad” cholesterol and increases the risk of developing high blood pressure. Follow a heart healthy diet by eating plenty of fresh fruit, lean meat, vegetables and fibre rich foods. Then compliment your ingredients by using low-fat cooking methods like boiling or poaching, for the best results always try to avoid frying or roasting with oil. Remember, by cooking from scratch rather than choosing processed foods, you’ll also be cutting down on salt and saturated fats which can raise cholesterol levels.
Changing your lifestyle involves a considerable commitment, particularly if like me you are a foodie living around the London area, but there are private Doctors who can guide you through and monitor your progress.