There are two types of cholesterol; HDL ‘good’ cholesterol
and LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol. High cholesterol levels can be genetic or can be
caused by the foods that you eat. Eating foods rich in saturated fats will
increase the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood, which is then deposited
within the walls of arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow through.
This build-up in the walls of the arteries puts a person at significant risk of heart disease and stroke.
Abnormally high cholesterol levels may not give you any symptoms, so a blood test is the best way to check how much cholesterol and other lipids your blood contains. This test is a ‘total cholesterol test,’ to provide an indication of ‘total cholesterol.’
Ways to manage your cholesterol
Diet is an obvious factor and eating heart-healthy foods can help you to manage your cholesterol. Saturated fats have a habit of raising your total cholesterol levels, so it’s important to reduce your intake of foods such as red meat, cakes, biscuits and pies . Consuming more foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, flaxseeds and walnuts may help to lower cholesterol.
Increasing your physical activity can help to raise the good HDL cholesterol that you want. Regardless of how little you exercise, from taking a brisk walk at the end of the day to riding your bike for 20 minutes can all help you to manage your cholesterol levels.
Quitting smoking has major short and long benefits in helping you to balance your cholesterol levels. According to studies published in the Biomarker Research journal, HDL levels can increase by as much as 30 percent within just three weeks of stopping smoking . It’s also been noted that the risk of having a heart attack drops by an estimated 30 percent just within a year of quitting .
Pop into your local Blooms The Chemist for a quick total cholesterol test. Usually performed as a fasting test, a small amount of blood will be taken from your fingertip and you should have your results in about three minutes. Your Pharmacist can talk you through the results and any recommended follow-up tests and lifestyle advice.
 Top 5 lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol.
[2,3] The effect of quitting smoking on HDL-cholesterol - a review based on within-subject changes.