October is National Cholesterol Month and we’re breaking down the Cholesterol facts to help you manage your cholesterol.
1) Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the blood
Cholesterol is a type of fatty substance, called a lipid that's found in the blood. It’s needed for cell formation as it's used to build cell membranes and structures. Cholesterol is unable to travel through the bloodstream on its own. It requires lipoproteins to transport the cholesterol in ‘bundles’ made up of protein and fat.
2) Cholesterol is made and removed by the liver
Cholesterol is made in your liver. It needs ingredients from the food you eat. This includes eggs, meat, fish, cheese, milk and butter. When cholesterol needs to be removed from the body, it returns to the liver for excretion.
3) Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is known as bad cholesterol
LDL is mostly fat compared protein. Even though it's known as bad cholesterol, it still has an important role. LDL is the lipoprotein that transports cholesterol to different parts of the body. However, when cholesterol level increases, LDL deposits cholesterol in the bloodstream.
4) High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as good cholesterol
HDL is known as good cholesterol and the higher the levels of HDL cholesterol in your body, the better. HDL has more protein than fat. It takes up excess cholesterol from the blood and transports it back to the liver.
5) A cholesterol imbalance is an early warning of heart disease
Your lipid profile looks at the levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol in your blood. If these levels are off, it can be an early warning sign of heart disease. A cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL (6.2mmol/L) is considered high. You should aim for a cholesterol level below 5mmol/L.
Cholesterol Sheet on Doctor’s Desk with HDL and LDL Checkbox options.
6) Alcohol can reduce cholesterol (for some people)
There is a gene that has been shown to have a positive effect on HDL. This lipoprotein collects cholesterol from the blood and takes it to the liver to be removed. Therefore, for people with this gene, moderate alcohol consumption can reduce your overall cholesterol level. You can find out if you have a positive alcohol response with Health Fit.
7) Eggs aren’t as bad for Cholesterol as we once thought
When it comes to cholesterol, eggs seem to have a bad reputation, but research has shown that eggs have a minimal effect on your blood cholesterol levels. There's no set amount of eggs people should consume, but consuming a few eggs a week has not been shown to increase your total cholesterol levels. The foods that you should be more concerned about increasing your cholesterol levels are foods high in saturated fat and trans fat.
Egg in a heart-shaped kitchen utensil
8) Regular exercise can help increase good cholesterol
A study on women with type 2 diabetes found that three weeks of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) boosted the HDL cholesterol levels in participants by 21%. Another study on exercise and cholesterol found that men who jogged and then ran at a high intensity for equal periods saw substantial improvements in HDL levels over eight weeks.
9) Women’s cholesterol peaks during pregnancy
Women tend to have lower cholesterol levels than men for most of their lives. However, women tend to experience more variance. During pregnancy, a woman's cholesterol will be particularly high. This is to help the baby's brain develop. Post-pregnancy levels tend to return to normal.
Women’s LDL cholesterol levels increase significantly after menopause, while protective HDL levels decline. This causes an increase in cholesterol overall. In fact, by the age of 75, women tend to have a higher cholesterol level than men.
10) High Cholesterol is Genetic
High cholesterol can be inherited from your parents. Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a genetic condition where an individual inherits an abnormal chromosome that makes the liver ineffective at regulating LDL. As a result, it is difficult to remove cholesterol from the blood, resulting in high cholesterol levels overall.
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11) Cholesterol is necessary for making hormones and vitamin D
It’s not all bad. Cholesterol is needed to make essential hormones and vitamin D. Vitamin D is made in the skin by 7-dehydrocholesterol. This is a specific form of cholesterol that kicks off vitamin D production from sunlight. Cholesterol is extremely important in the body as it's required to produce hormones such as progestogen, glucocorticoids and estrogen. Hormones are chemicals that send signals to initiate vital bodily functions.
Do you know your cholesterol level?
Now that you know the Cholesterol facts, it’s time to consider your blood cholesterol. SnapShot is DNAfit’s pain-free at-home blood testing kit that gives you lipid insights which include your HDL and LDL cholesterol, as well as other insights around your liver function and heart health. SnapShot your way to better health today.
(Snapshot is currently available exclusively to those in the UK)
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