Our current lifestyle is a magnet to high cholesterol. The food that we eat, our activity level, age and gender, weight, diseases, smoking, family history and medicines consumed can all lead to high cholesterol. Statistics show that a high level of cholesterol in the blood is a major cause of atherosclerosis, and the higher the level of cholesterol in your blood, the more likely you will develop cardiovascular diseases.
Cholesterol is important to the function of the entire body. It is the fat that is produced by the liver. Its functions are mainly to build, maintain cell membranes (outer layer), prevents crystallisation of hydrocarbons in the membrane. Cholesterol is also essential for determining which molecules can pass into the cell and which cannot (cell membrane permeability). Though produced by the liver, cholesterol can also be found in the foods that we eat.
You’ve probably heard of the two kinds of cholesterol; called the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Known as the “bad cholesterol”, the LDL’s job is to carry the cholesterol from your liver to the cells that need it. If the cholesterol level is too much for the cells to use, it will build up in the artery walls, and this leads to disease of the arteries.
HDL or the “good cholesterol” functions to carry cholesterol away from cells and back to the liver to be broken down or passed as waste by the body. This simply means the higher the level of HDL available in your body, the better it is for the body.
So, make lifestyle changes today. Keep your diet low in fatty food and eat more fruits, vegetables and wholegrain cereals. Quit smoking and have a regular exercise routine. If these still do not help you lower your cholesterol level, ask your GP to prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication. They can ensure that your cholesterol levels are maintained at a desired level.