Heart disease is among the biggest killers in the UK. Every year around a quarter of all deaths in the region are caused by heart and circulatory diseases. One of the main causes of these conditions is high cholesterol – specifically when arteries become narrowed by fatty substances in the blood.
“You find it in foods such as fried foods, full fat dairy, take-aways, processed foods, biscuits, cakes and chocolates.
“These foods, when broken down, leave fatty deposits in the blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease.
“Inversely, foods high in unsaturated fats can reduce your risk of heart disease as they are made up of high-density cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol), that helps to remove the fatty deposits in the blood vessels, and return them to the liver to be metabolised and removed.
“These foods include avocados, nuts and seeds, oily fish, and some oils such as olive oil and rapeseed oil.”
Low-density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol) is what can build up on the walls of your blood vessels and over time this causes the insides of the vessels to narrow.
Healthy levels of total cholesterol in the blood is considered to be five or less millimoles per litre (mmol/l).
More specifically, a healthy level of high-density lipoprotein (“good” cholesterol) is one or more mmol/l, and you should have four or less mmol/l of low-density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol).
Other causes of high cholesterol include:
- Lack of exercise
- Drinking alcohol
- Family history.
Ask your GP surgery or pharmacy for a cholesterol test if you have not had one before and you’re over 40, overweight, or high cholesterol or heart problems run in your family.