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About Cholesterol

About Cholesterol

We all need some cholesterol, but one of the the keys to healthy cholesterol levels is getting the balance right.
Lifestyle insight
Reading time: 3 minutes

What is cholesterol?

We often hear about cholesterol, but what exactly is it? Cholesterol is a fatty substance, a type of lipid, that is produced by your body, but it can also be found in food.1 In your body, your liver makes cholesterol. In fact, most of the cholesterol in your body is made by your liver.1 The rest of the cholesterol in your body – a much smaller amount – comes from foods including meat and eggs.2
 

What does cholesterol do?

Our bodies don’t need a lot of cholesterol, but it’s essential to have some. This is because your body makes hormones, Vitamin D and digestive fluids from cholesterol.3 Plus the walls of all your cells, particularly the nervous system ones, are built with cholesterol.1 But, as you probably know, too much of the wrong type of cholesterol can be bad for you.
 

Good vs. bad cholesterol – what’s the difference?

Cholesterol is transported around your body in your blood, where it is carried by substances called lipoproteins. It is either carried by HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or LDL (low-density lipoprotein).1
 
It’s these lipoproteins that make cholesterol “good” or “bad”.
 
  • When cholesterol is carried by LDL, it’s called “bad cholesterol”, or LDL cholesterol.1
  • When cholesterol is carried by HDL, it’s called “good” cholesterol, or HDL cholesterol.1
  • Create infographic with more information about each when you tap/click
Why is high LDL cholesterol bad?
  • LDL carries cholesterol to your arteries1
  • Over time  cholesterol can build up and form plaques in your arteries1
  • Plaques can block arteries and disrupt the flow of oxygen-rich blood  to organs, creating damage to the arteries1
  • A plaque can eventually break off, creating a clot which blocks  arteries  and  may lead to a heart attack or stroke4
Why is high HDL cholesterol good?
  • HDL carries cholesterol from your arteries to the liver, reducing the risk of plaque creation1
  • our liver can dispose of this cholesterol1

Getting the balance right

A total cholesterol test will measure your levels of both types of cholesterol – your good HDL cholesterol and your bad LDL cholesterol. It’s the ratio between your good HDL cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol that’s important.5 Getting the balance right can help lower your risk of heart disease.5
 

Healthy cholesterol levels

For adults, these are the healthy cholesterol levels that you should aim for.6
 
  • Total cholesterol: 200 mg/dL or less
  • Good HDL cholesterol: 60 mg/dL or more
  • Bad LDL cholesterol: 100 mg/dL or less

Maintaining the balance

You can do a lot to help keep your cholesterol levels balanced. For starters, a healthy fibre-rich diet will help.7 Natural plant-based fibre supplements, such as soluble fibre from corn, can give you a fibre boost and help you manage your cholesterol levels.8To learn about how taking this type of natural supplement can play a role in cholesterol balance, read more here.
 
References
  1. HealthDirect. What is cholesterol? Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/what-is-cholesterol (accessed July 2018).
  2. Heart UK. The myth of dietary cholesterol. Available at: https://heartuk.org.uk/cholesterol-and-diet/low-cholesterol-diets-and-foods/dietary-cholesterol (accessed July 2018).
  3. Tabas I. J Clin Invest 2002;110(5):583-590.
  4. Healthline. Does high cholesterol cause heart disease? Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/cholesterol-and-heart-disease#risk-factors (accessed July 2018).
  5. Healthline. Understanding the cholesterol ratio: what it is and why it’s important. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/cholesterol-ratio (accessed July 2018).
  6. Bruckert E, Rosenbaum D. Curr Opin Lipidol 2011;22(1):43-48.
  7. Amar AJ, et al. Lipids Health Dis 2016;15(1):115.
  8. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Your guide to lowering your cholesterol with therapeutic lifestyle changes. NIH Publication No. 06–5235. December 2005.
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