What does it mean to have high cholesterol? Should I be concerned?
Cholesterol is a fat substance that is necessary for our body to continue working well, for example: to build cells and make hormones.
Most of the blood cholesterol is made in our body, in our liver. The remaining cholesterol is from dietary cholesterol which is found in animal-based foods: meat, dairy, seafood, and eggs. It is important to know that saturated fat and trans fat increase your blood cholesterol more than the cholesterol found in food.
- “Bad” cholesterol is known as LDL (low-density lipoprotein). Too much LDL in the blood can cause build-up of fatty substances (see image on the right). This will decrease the flow of oxygen and increase your risk of a heart attack and/or stroke. High cholesterol= high LDL cholesterol
- “Good” cholesterol is known as HDL (high-density lipoprotein). HDL prevents the LDL from sticking to the blood vessels. This helps decrease the risk of heart attacks and/or stroke.
The main objective is aiming for LDL 2.0 mmol/L or lower.
(Your doctor may also give you an individual target – always ask them what you should be aiming for).
High blood cholesterol can be genetic but it is mainly caused by poor lifestyle choices.
This is good news! By eating healthy and exercising, you can prevent and treat high blood cholesterol. You may need medication to give your body that extra help