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How cholesterol impacts your body

How cholesterol impacts your body

Take a close look at cholesterol – it can affect your health all the way from your head to your toes!

Lifestyle insight
Reading time: 2 minutes

Cholesterol and your arteries

Before you can understand the connection between cholesterol levels and your health, it’s helpful to picture what happens when cholesterol travels around your body. First, imagine cholesterol getting around your body as though it was swimming in your blood, passing through all your arteries. Second, imagine that it can take this trip through your arteries carried as a small sticky substance (“bad” LDL cholesterol) or a big powerful substance (“good” HDL cholesterol).1
 
Your arteries are a bit like a drain. Small sticky LDL cholesterol gets stuck on the walls, like fat droplets if you tip oil down the sink. But big powerful HDL slips through without stopping or sticking, like frothy soaps suds after you’ve washed your dishes. HDL cholesterol also helps to carry away the bad sticky LDL cholesterol that it comes across, taking it back to the liver where it can be broken down and passed from the body.1,2
 

Keeping your arteries healthy

Keeping a healthy balance of HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol is one of the keys to keeping your arteries healthy. By controlling how much of each type of cholesterol ends up in your arteries, you can reduce the chance of LDL cholesterol getting stuck in your arteries. This helps to maintain good blood flow in your arteries.1,2 One of the ways  to do this is by following a low cholesterol diet plan, which includes making sure that you’re getting  enough fibre.1 Read more here.
 

The importance of healthy arteries

Heathy arteries support good blood flow and are important for your whole body. This is because the blood that arteries carry has the job of delivering oxygen and nutrients to all the places that they are needed. Plus it carries immune cells that protect you from infections.
 
Keeping your arteries in good condition – by preventing your LDL cholesterol levels from getting too high – has many benefits. For example, it can help prevent you from developing high blood pressure,3 it can help protect your heart,4 and it can help ensure that you have good blood circulation from your head to your toes.2
 
 

Knowing how healthy your arteries are

Much like a drain pipe, it’s hard to see what’s going on in your arteries. So what can you do to check on the health of your arteries? You can have regular blood tests that measure your cholesterol levels.2 This will help inform you whether your arteries are likely to be in good health. If your cholesterol levels aren’t healthy, your doctor will be able to help you make a plan for taking care of your arteries so that they can serve you well.
 
References
  1. WebMD. Heart disease and lowering cholesterol. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/heart-disease-lower-cholesterol-risk#1 Accessed August 2018.

  2. Healthline. The effects of high cholesterol on the body. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/cholesterol/effects-on-body Accessed August 2018.

  3. Healthline. What’s the connection between high blood cholesterol and hypertension? Available at:  https://www.healthline.com/health/high-cholesterol/treating-with-statins/hypertension#1 Accessed September 2018.

  4. Healthline. The benefits of cholesterol and how to increase HDL levels. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/high-cholesterol/benefits Accessed September 2018.

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