Introduction:

Cholesterol is found in the blood of all people. Cholesterol is a fat compound, synthesized only in human and animal tissues. To ensure that the body always has the right amount of cholesterol required for sustaining life, the body makes cholesterol in particularly in the liver. A high dietary-intake of saturated and trans-fats can lead to increased cholesterol that causes atherosclerosis, the underlying disease process in coronary arteries that leads to heart attacks.

Therefore, cholesterol originate from two sources:
1. Cholesterol manufactured in the body
2. Cholesterol-intake through diet (high-fat diets)

In some people with elevated blood-cholesterol levels above the normal level, the process of atherosclerosis starts (the damaging and fat accumulation in the arteries).

Risks:

​Why is it dangerous to have high cholesterol? What are the risks:
• Heart disease
• Heart attack
• Atherosclerosis
• Reduced oxygen provision to the body
• Portal hypertension
• Stroke
• Peripheral artery disease
• Numbness, pain, gangrene
• Fatty liver disease
• Gallstones

Tips:

Eating to lower cholesterol:
• Reduce your total fat intake
• Reducing the intake of saturated fat (mainly animal fats)
• Replace saturated fat with poly-unsaturated fats
• Increase your intake of mono-unsaturated fats
• Increase the intake of high-fibre food (especially soluble fibre)
• Eat less salt
• Increase your fresh fruit and vegetable intake
• Distribute the intake of fat evenly throughout the day and do not skip meals
• Achieve your ideal body weight

Remember that prevention is better than cure, therefore aim to keep your cholesterol within the healthy ranges rather than having to decrease it when it is too high.

If you have a family history of cholesterol, please remember to go for your annual complete cholesterol studies.

Conclusion:

​Small amounts of cholesterol is manufactured in the body (required to sustain life) but too much cholesterol (caused by a high-fat intake) can result in atherosclerosis.

To prevent atherosclerosis and to lower cholesterol:
•    Reduce your total fat intake
•    Reducing the intake of saturated fat (mainly animal fats)
•    Replace saturated fat with poly-unsaturated fats
•    Increase your intake of mono-unsaturated fats
•    Increase the intake of high-fibre food (especially soluble fibre)
•    Eat less salt
•    Increase your fresh fruit and vegetable intake
•    Distribute the intake of fat evenly throughout the day and do not skip meals
•    Achieve your ideal body weight

I hope that you found this insightful. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Retha Booyens
Registered Dietician (SA)

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