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Cholesterol

What is cholesterol?

 

It is a fat, or lipid, it is also a sterol from which steroid hormones are made.

There are two main lipoproteins:

LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein ("bad cholesterol")

(if you have too much LDL, it deposits the cholesterol into your arteries)

HDL: High Density Lipoprotein ("good cholesterol")

HDL is more protein than fat; it carries excess cholesterol back to the liver

 

Where does cholesterol come from?

The body makes cholesterol on its own

Cholesterol comes from foods we eat, cholesterol is found only in animal products

 

Cholesterol has 3 main functions:

  • It helps make the outer coating of cells
  • It makes up bile acids that work to digest food in the intestine
  • It allows the body to make Vitamin D and hormones (eg oestrogen in women and testosterone in men)

What are Triglycerides?

A type of fat found in your blood, your body converts any calories you don't need to use right away, into Triglycerides.

Triglycerides are stored in your fat cells, later, hormones release Triglycerides for energy between meals. If you regularly eat more calories than you burn (like carbohydrates and fats) you may have high Triglycerides.

Triglycerides and cholesterol are separate types of lipids that circulate in your blood. Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with energy, whereas cholesterol is used to build cells and certain hormones.

Because cholesterol and Triglycerides can't dissolve in blood, they circulate throughout your body with the help of proteins that transport lipids.

Cholesterol Levels (measured in millimoles (mmol) per litre of blood)

Total Cholesterol

  • Desirable 5.2mmol/l

LDL

  • Ideal for people at high risk of heart disease Below 1.8mmol/l
  • Ideal for people at risk of heart disease Below 2.6mmol/l
  • Near Ideal 2.6-3.3mmol/l

HDL

  • Poor Below 1mmol/l (men)
  • Better 1-1.3mmol/l (men)1.3mmol/l (women)
  • Best 1.6mmol/l and above 1.3-1.5mmol/l (women)

TRIGLYCERIDES

  • Desirable Below 1.7mmol/l

For the most accurate test result, don't eat or drink anything but water 9 - 12 hours before your test is taken.

We have a very accurate finger prick Lipogram test available at our clinic, you'll have your results within 3 minutes.

GUIDELINES TO LOWER CHOLESTEROL

  • Quit smoking
  • Eat more soluble fibre, found in oatmeal, beans, fruits and vegetables (see article by Kerry Hillerman)
  • Eat less fat and cholesterol from meat and dairy products
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes on most days of the week

Compiled by Sr Lindi Butterfield

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