What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is widely distributed throughout the body, being especially abundant in the brain, nervous tissue, adrenal glands and skin. It plays an important role in the body, being essential for the production of hormones, as well as the repair of membranes!

There are two types of cholesterol: HDL, high-density lipoproteins and LDL, low-density lipoproteins. HDL is considered good and LDL “bad” cholesterol. It is worse to be low in good cholesterol, than high in the bad one!

The total amount in the body of a person weighing 70 kilograms (10 stones) is around 140 grams, and the amount present in the blood is 3.6 to 7.8 m.mol per litre or 150 to 250 milligrams per 100 millilitres. A blood-cholesterol level above 6 m.mol per litre (238 mg per 100 ml) is considered high, depending on age.

Natural ways to reduce Cholesterol

  • Eat a Mediterranean diet and avoid high dairy and sugar intake: lots of fruit and veg, salads, olive and nut oils, and meat as a more occasional treat.
  • Avoid high glycaemic, processed foods.
  • Avoid hydrogenated fats and trans fatty acids found in most processed foods, esp. margarine.
  • Eat foods rich in flavonoid antioxidants, e.g. brightly coloured fresh fruits, berries, vegetables, grape juice, green tea – and red wine!
  • Aim to get two to three servings of wholegrains and pulses day (porridge, muesli, brown bread, brown rice, lentils, kidney beans, chick peas etc.)
  • Eat nuts, seeds, oily fish (not fried) for their essential fatty acids.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid constipation. Clear the pathways for elimination!

Helpful supplements include lecithin, co-enzyme Q10, milk thistle, garlic, essential fatty acids (flax oil, fish oil), plant sterols, red rice yeast extract, antioxidant vits./minerals A, C, E, selenium, zinc and B3 (Niacin).

However, be aware that many authorities believe raised cholesterol is a less accurate indicator of potential heart disease than raised homocysteine levels, which can be controlled simply by taking B vitamins. (It is thought that cholesterol is deposited on blood vessel walls to counteract inflammation caused by high homocysteine level in the first place.)

If on statins which do not include coQ10, it is recommended that coQ10 should be supplemented. CoQ10 is essential for heart function but is depleted by long term use of statins. (If on medication, supplements should only be used with your practitioner’s consent.)

This fact sheet is for information only and is not a substitute for a consultation with a healthcare professional.

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