So we have been talking about omega 3 fats and how they are beneficial for improving cholesterol levels, but you may be wondering what’s all the fuss about with cholesterol levels and health. Most people have heard that high cholesterol levels can affect health in a bad way but are not sure how.
High cholesterol levels in the body are a major risk factor for heart disease and can increase the chance of you having a heart attack. 12% of all deaths in Australia can be directly related to high cholesterol¹. This said cholesterol is important for good health however we need to be paying attention to the amount in our bodies.
The body has the ability to make the cholesterol it needs for good health. Cholesterol is an important substance in our body being part of cell membranes, bile acids and hormones. Since the body can make its own we do not need to rely on sources from the diet.
Excess cholesterol can build up inside blood vessels in the body called arteries. As it does this, the arteries can become narrower which increases the risk of blockages occurring. If a blockage occurs in the heart this can result in a heart attack and if it occurs in the brain it can result in a stroke.
Types of Cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol levels:
- LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)
- HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)
Everyone should be aiming to decrease their level of LDL cholesterol and increase their levels of HDL cholesterol. Past studies have shown that a decrease in LDL cholesterol levels can result in a 22% decrease in chance of heart attack or heart surgery².
Improving your cholesterol levels can begin by making some simple changes in your eating habits. There are many foods that can affect cholesterol levels. An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can give you advice on cholesterol and foods. Contact a dietitian from Nutted Out Nutrition for personalised advice for how you can improve your cholesterol levels.
- National Heart Foundation of Australia (report by Vos T and Begg S, Centre for Burden of Disease and Cost Effectiveness, University of Queensland School of Population Health), 2006
- Baker IDI Media Release 16/2/11- ‘TAS, VIC and SA GP patients have highest cholesterol levels’.