Check your cholesterol level
Cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, usually shortened to mmol/litre or mmol/l and the average cholesterol level is somewhere between 5.1 and 6.5 depending on age. However, new guidelines by the Joint British Societies suggest that a total cholesterol level of under 4 mmol/l and bad (LDL) Cholesterol of less than 2 mmol/l is necessary to keep your heart healthy. Check your cholesterol rate here with the Flora Pro-activ Cholesterol checker.
Cholesterol affects how every cell in the body works and is used to make other vital chemicals so the body still needs some in order to function, but that doesn't mean you should fill up on fatty foods to 'stock-up' on cholesterol. Dining on saturated foods, combined with a lack of physical exercise will increase your LDL levels and lower your HDL levels. Drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol per week also won't help your case. In moderation alcohol can help increase the HDL (good) cholesterol but nevertheless it doesn't decrease the LDL (bad) cholesterol level. Too many pints in the pub can damage the heart muscle, increase blood pressure and lead to weight gain. Smoking reduces the HDL cholesterol and is linked to about twenty percent of heart disease deaths.
If you are obese or overweight you are already likely to have an increased level of LDL and triglyceride levels (fatty substances found in the blood) combined with a decreased level of HDL, raising your overall blood cholesterol level. But if you lose weight your triglyceride levels will decrease and your HDL (good) cholesterol levels will rise.
Stress doesn't increase cholesterol levels, but it affects a person's mood and eating habits so when faced with pressure many of us turn towards comforting, fatty foods. This is a bad idea as the saturated fat and cholesterol in fatty foods contribute to higher levels of blood cholesterol.
Causes of high cholesterol
Unfortunately, for some people, it's not just about watching their diet. Research has shown that it is possible to inherit a gene making you susceptible to high cholesterol levels. The genetic makeup you inherit from your family can affect the condition of your heart, so take note of any heart-health-related problems amongst your close relatives. If heart health problems run in your family, it is essential to take steps to keep your heart healthy and prevent problems in the future.
Evidence suggests a link between high cholesterol levels and a diet high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fat so reducing the total amount of fat you eat can help to keep your blood cholesterol levels down.
Although 'fats' have a bad reputation, not all of them are bad as some actually form an essential part of your diet, helping nutrients to be properly absorbed, aiding nerve transmissions or maintaining cell membranes. Get familiar with the cholesterol-friendly fats, which raise the LDL cholesterol levels and which increase the HDL levels. Contrary to belief, there is hardly any cholesterol in food apart from eggs, liver and kidneys, and seafood such as prawns but dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol anyway, the issue is about the amount of saturated fat in your diet.