Cholesterol is a waxy substance; it is made by the liver from the saturated fat that we eat. Very little cholesterol is found in food. Foods such as eggs, liver kidneys and seafood’s e.g. prawns contain some cholesterol.
Cholesterol is important in maintaining healthy cells throughout our body, it is also required to make other important chemicals essential for health, but if there is too much cholesterol in your blood this can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diseases that also affect your circulation
Cholesterol is transported by your blood in the circulation attached to protein which helps your cholesterol to reach all the cells it needs too. Cholesterol and protein combined are called lipoproteins.
There are two types of lipoprotein LDL this is known as (low density lipoprotein) also referred to as bad cholesterol. The lower the density of this lipoprotein the more fat it contains, LDL can build up in your arteries causing narrowing from plaque. Your LDL transports cholesterol from your liver through your blood stream to the cells.
The second lipoprotein is called HDL (High density lipoprotein) referred to
as good cholesterol, this is because HDL cholesterol removes the bad cholesterol form your bloodstream and will return any extra cholesterol that is not required in the blood stream back to the liver.
Another type of fat which is found in the blood is triglycerides. Triglycerides are fats which are found in food such as dairy products, meat and cooking oils. Triglycerides can also be produced by your body from fat stores or in the liver. Triglyceride levels may be high in persons who have a diet high in fat and sugar, persons who are overweight and persons who drink too much alcohol.
CAUSES OF HIGH CHOLESTEROL
One of the most common causes of high blood cholesterol is eating too much fat especially saturated fat. These are fats derived from animal products such as cakes, biscuits pastry etc. Some people may have high cholesterol despite eating a very healthy diet. Other causes may be due to an under active thyroid gland, long term kidney problems or from having too much alcohol. Some people can have a high cholesterol level due to an inherited condition known as familial hyperlipidaemia or FH.
A blood sample is taken to measure both cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Government recommendations recommend your total cholesterol be below 22mg/dL (5.17mmol/L)
Doctors can use your cholesterol measurement along with other risk factors such as age, sex, ethnicity, family history, smoking, BMI (body mass index) this is your weight in relation to your height) diabetes or blood pressure (hypertension) to assess your risk of coronary heart disease.
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