Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance, which is essential to the normal functioning of your body.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance, which is essential to the normal functioning of your body. A certain amount of cholesterol is healthy as it forms part of cell walls and is necessary to make hormones, vitamin D and help with the digestion of dietary fats in the gut.

However if there is too much cholesterol in blood, the body is unable to get rid of it and the excess cholesterol is deposited along the walls of your arteries forming a fatty material called atheromatous plaques. A gradual build of fatty materials can cause the arteries that supply blood to the heart to harden and become narrow and eventually blocked. This process is called atherosclerosis and may eventually cause symptoms of angina or result in heart attacks and/or strokes. When the artery is blocked totally either by a loosened atheroma plaque or by increasing deposits narrowing the artery we can get a heart attack (when artery in heart is blocked) or stroke (when artery in brain is blocked).

There are two main forms of cholesterol in the body:

  1. Low Density Lipoprotein or ‘Bad Cholesterol’

Having excess ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood will contribute to the build up of fat deposits in your arteries, which can slow down the flow of blood to the heart or the brain. Overtime, this build up of fatty deposits can harden and cause your arteries to narrow. This greatly increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The lower your LDL, the lower the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

  1. High Density Lipoprotein or ‘Good Cholesterol’

The role of ‘good’ cholesterol is to collect excess cholesterol from the tissues and arteries and return it to the liver where it can be removed and excreted by the gut. This process is essential to prevent the build up of excess cholesterol in the arteries resulting in heart attacks and strokes. The higher your HDL the better, as HDL protects against the development of heart disease.

Being overweight increases your cholesterol levels and your risk of heart disease and stroke. Making just small changes to your diet will help aid a slow gradual sustainable weight loss. Losing 10% of your body weight has significant benefits and will result in a reduction in total cholesterol.

Generally it is thought that only high fat intake influences cholesterol levels, however it now appears that the types or carbohydrates we choose also plays a significant role. It is becoming clear that high sugar levels or high glycaemic diet affects blood cholesterol by causing continuous high circulating insulin levels.  Therefore the first approach for individuals with high cholesterol levels should be to follow a low glycaemic diet plan.

In our clinics we have specially designed Low Glycaemic diets which result in a 10% reduction from your initial weight in 12 weeks.