October is National Cholesterol Month and doctors across Pennine Lancashire would like to encourage residents to take steps to reduce their cholesterol.
Over half of all UK adults have high cholesterol levels. This doesn’t usually cause any symptoms, but increases the risk of serious health conditions.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance which is made in the body; we need it to stay healthy because every cell in our body uses it. Some of this cholesterol comes from the food that we eat but not all cholesterol is good though. There are two main types – one which is ‘good’ and the other which is ‘bad’.
LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is often referred to as “bad cholesterol” because too much is unhealthy. Some LDL foods include:
• Full fat milk, cheese, yoghurt, cream
• Animal fats, butter, ghee, margarines and spreads made from animal fats, lard, suet, dripping
• Fatty meat and processed meat products such as sausages
Foods from this group need to be limited to lower cholesterol levels.
HDL (high density lipoprotein). on the other hand is referred to as “good cholesterol” because it is protective. Foods in this good cholesterol group include:
• Fruit and vegetables
• Fatty fish such as mackeral and salmon
• Beans such as kidney beans and baked beans
Dr Rahul Thakur, a local GP and clinical lead at NHS East Lancashire and NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said: “Knowing your cholesterol levels can help explain your risk of heart disease. Raised or unhealthy patterns of blood cholesterol affect many people. Many factors play a part including:
• Diet and lifestyle
• Medical history
“Having unhealthy cholesterol levels alongside other risk factors for heart and circulatory disease such as smoking or high blood pressure can put you at very high risk of early heart disease.
“Making changes to the food you eat by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, eating more from the good cholesterol food group and restricting the bad cholesterol foods. Being more active such as brisk walking 30 minutes a day, running, cycling or swimming and generally being more active are some of the things you can do to help lower your cholesterol to normal levels.
“In some cases, particularly if you are older or at greater risk, you may also need to take a cholesterol-lowering medicine like a statin. Statins are very effective, safe and well tolerated and have been shown to reduce heart attacks.”
If you’re concerned about your cholesterol, talk to your GP. If you’re aged 40 to 74, you can get your cholesterol checked as part of an NHS Health Check.
You can find more information about cholesterol online at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-cholesterol/