National Cholesterol Month
October marks National Cholesterol Month; an entire month devoted to raising funds for HEART UK to support their work in raising awareness of the dangers and health implications of high cholesterol. It is the ideal opportunity to hold your own fundraising events, or simply a chance to share campaign messages on social media; by doing so you will be helping to raise awareness for HEART UK and the important work they do.
What is cholesterol?
It is a blood fat that is made in the liver, and can also be found in some foods, we all need it to stay healthy as it plays a vital role, particularly in the brain, nerves and skin.
3 main reasons we need cholesterol are as follows:
- It forms part of the cell membranes in our bodies
- It is used to help make Vitamin D and steroid hormones – this works to keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy
- It is used to make bile which helps to digest fats that we eat
The problems occur when we have too much bad cholesterol in our bodies, it can clog up arteries and lead to future health problems – such as heart and circulatory diseases. High cholesterol is a big factor in the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Many different conditions are related to high cholesterol and blood fats.
Some people wrongly believe that you only get high cholesterol if you are old and overweight – this is not the case, anyone can have high cholesterol. It can be genetic, but can also be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle.
By getting a simple cholesterol test and making positive lifestyle changes, most people can keep their cholesterol levels healthy. Looking after your weight and watching your diet can look after your cholesterol levels and your heart. It can also benefit you overall by lowering your blood pressure and reducing the risk of diabetes which can keep other health problems at bay.
Our diets can have a big impact on cholesterol and triglyceride levels, changing your diet by making a few swaps is one simple but important thing you can do. Increase your fruit and vegetable intake, and cut down on the foods with a lot of saturated fat, and replace them with the foods containing more unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are found in animal foods, such as fatty meat and dairy products. Unsaturated fats are found in plant foods, such as olive and vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, as well as oily fish.
For example you can swap butter for vegetable spreads. Fatty and processed meats such as bacon and sausages for lean meat, chicken or fish. Crisps and biscuits for dried fruit and nuts.
Other lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health and lower your cholesterol even further include being active and adopting regular exercise in your routine. Also quitting smoking is one of the best things to do for your cholesterol, heart and health. It’s not easy but there is lots of support and free advice out there nowadays, try speaking to your doctor or nurse for advice or calling the NHS smoking helpline.
There are also supplements you could try Plant sterols/stanols are compounds found naturally in plant-derived foods, contributing to normal blood cholesterol levels.
Research has also indicated that a diet rich in lecithin may increase good HDL cholesterol and lower bad LDL cholesterol. Lecithin supplements have shown promise in lowering cholesterol. In a 2008 study, participants took 500 milligrams (mg) of soy lecithin a day. After 2 months, the average total cholesterol was reduced by 42 percent, and LDL cholesterol was reduced by 56.15 percent.
Krill oil contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), 2 of the most beneficial types of omega 3 fatty acids that have been shown to help reduce triglycerides and inflammation, demonstrating supportive effects on overall heart health and a reduction in the risks of heart disease. The omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in our K.REAL® krill oil are attached to phospholipids as well as to triglycerides for superior bioavailability compared to standard fish oils.
Studies have shown positive effects when taking Krill oil with decreases in triglyceride levels, increases in good cholesterol (HDL), and decreases in bad cholesterol (LDL).
Garlic is one of the most widely purchased herbal supplements used for lowering cholesterol levels. Research studies involving both animal and humans have suggested that garlic can lower cholesterol levels.
As always with any new supplement it is advisable to consult with your doctor or a health care professional before introducing it to your diet.
For further health blogs and additional product information visit www.hellenia.co.uk
You can also visit HEARTUK for more helpful advice and find out how to donate and show your support for National Cholesterol month.