Monday 1 October 2018

Cholesterol - The Silent Killer for National Heart Month

October is National Cholesterol Awareness Month and I was just wondered how much do you know about cholesterol?  Perhaps not a great deal, which is why cholesterol is known as the silent killer, as it often presents no symptons until quite a lot of damage has been done.  It can affect young and old, fat and thin.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a sticky fat needed by our body to make cells, hormones and vitamins.You have probably heard that many people need to lower their cholesterol but you may be surprised to learn that we actually need cholesterol! However, before you disregard this as nonsense, I will clarify that what I mean is there is “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol, and we need the good but not the bad. By itself, cholesterol can’t circulate in our blood. It is carried around the body in something called lipoproteins. This is where the good vs bad comes into play. There are two main types of lipoproteins in the body:
“Good” cholesterol comes in the form of High Density Lipoprotein (HDL). HDL removes cholesterol from the body by taking it to the liver where it can be recycled or broken down
“bad” cholesterol comes in the form of Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is produced by the liver and supplies cholesterol to help repair old cells and build new ones. However, too much LDL cholesterol can stick to the inside of blood vessels, and, over time, this can build-up causing our blood vessels to narrow and restricting blood flow to the heart.

What Can Cause a Build-up of “Bad” cholesterol?

  • Smoking
  • Being inactive
  • Eating too much saturated fat
  • What we eat and drink
  • Being overweight, especially if you are “apple-shaped” and carry excess fat around your waist
  • A family history of high cholesterol, as this can be inherited from our parents 

Know Your Number

It’s important to get your cholesterol checked by a qualified health professional such as your doctor, pharmacist or nurse. The table below provides some general guidance on recommended blood cholesterol levels, but discuss your target number with your health professional when having your blood cholesterol tested:
recommended blood cholesterol levels

Managing Your Total Fat & Lowering Your Saturated Fat Intake

Research has shown that reducing saturated fat intake can bring about a reduction in harmful LDL-cholesterol. Guidance in the UK & USA recommends lowering saturated fat intake to less than 10% of energy intake. 

Cholesterol-Busting Super Foods

Plant based foods such as vegetables, oat cereals, beans and legumes, soya foods and drinks, nuts and seeds do not contain cholesterol and are usually low in saturated fat. So these are foods that should feature regularly in a diet to lower cholesterol.  In addition, there are 6 group foods, often called Superfoods, that can actively help to lower cholesterol levels. 

Easy Low Fat, Low Cholesterol Mediterranean Diet Recipe Cookbook
Cooking & Eating to Help Lower Cholesterol

If you are would like lots more information on how you can easily adjust your diet to support cholesterol-lowering goals, I can thoroughly recommend the latest cookbook by Milly White. Her new Easy Low Fat, Low Cholesterol Mediterranean Diet Recipe Cookbook contains over 100 delicious heart-healthy recipes based around cholesterol-lowering superfoods.

If you think that eating this way will be difficult or leave you feeling unsatisfied or deprived, think again. There are tempting and delicious recipes for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner along with mouth-watering Desserts and scrumptious Bakes & Cakes, proving that you can have your cake and eat it when the cake in question is Lemon & Blueberry Buttermilk Cupcakes!

Available in Paperback or as an ebook for Kindle on here.