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If you have too much cholesterol in your blood it could form a clot, which can cause a stroke or heart attack.
Your total amount of cholesterol is made up of two types:
- LDL ('bad'): puts cholesterol into your blood
- HDL ('good'): takes cholesterol out of your blood.
It is best to have:
- a low total cholesterol level
- a low LDL level
- a high HDL level.
One way to measure this is to look at the ratio of your total cholesterol level divided by your HDL level. The higher the ratio is, the greater your risk of a stroke or heart attack.
What your cholesterol levels should be
Type of cholesterol
What your cholesterol level should be
|Total cholesterol||Less than 5 |
(or less than 4 if you have other health problems)
|LDL cholesterol||Less than 3 |
(or less than 2 if you have other health problems)
|HDL cholesterol||More than 1 |
(particularly if you have problems that affect your heart and blood vessels)
|Total cholesterol / HDL ratio||Below 4 is best|
How to lower your cholesterol levels
The best way to help control your cholesterol levels is to eat more “helpful” fats and fewer “unhelpful” ones.
Eating the right fats will help your body. Some raise your cholesterol levels, while others lower it and help keep your skin and brain healthy.
Avoid eating too much saturated fat, as this will raise your cholesterol. It is usually found in cheese, red meats, butter, palm oil or ghee.
In contrast, polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats will help to lower your cholesterol level. They can be found in olive oil, rapeseed oil or sunflower oil. However they will still make you to gain weight if you eat too much of them.
Strike a balance to lower your cholesterol
To get the best balance, try choosing chicken meals instead of red meats and having fish at least twice a week (one of which should be an oily fish).
How to cut out the fat
By reading the food label, you can see if a food is low, medium or high in fat or saturated fat:
- Low - Less than 3g total fat or 1g saturated fat per 100g of food - These foods are a good choice
- Medium - Between 3-20g total fat or 1-5g saturated fat per 100g of food - Eat small amounts occasionally
- High - More than 20g total fat or 5g saturated fat per 100g of food - Avoid these completely