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Why should you keep an eye on your cholesterol?

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cholesterol NHS

Cholesterol NHS

Did you know It is important to keep an eye on your cholesterol levels? High cholesterol is one of the most significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as stroke and heart attack.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a substance made in the liver and can also be found naturally in some foods such as animal products. We need some cholesterol in our body but too much of it can clog up our arteries and lead to health problems. It is transported in the blood as low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Raised LDL can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, it is often referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol. Whereas HDL can be referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol, as it helps remove cholesterol from parts of the body where there are large amounts.

Making positive lifestyle changes can help prevent cholesterol levels becoming high. This includes eating a healthy well-balanced diet, keeping active, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol consumption.

Cholesterol NHS advice


Eating foods high in saturated fat can increase the level of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in our blood. These foods include ghee, butter, lard, cream and fatty cuts of meat. Swapping foods with unsaturated fats instead of saturated fat can help lower cholesterol levels. Examples of foods containing unsaturated fats are olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds and oily fish. Trans fat is another type of fat which can also increase cholesterol levels, they are found in foods such as meat, dairy and also processed foods.

Eating fibre can reduce the risk of heart disease and some fibre rich foods can help lower cholesterol. These include oats, flaxseeds, lentils, fruit and vegetables. Having plant sterols can also be beneficial, they are present in foods such as fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.

Some foods such as eggs and shellfish contain cholesterol, but these have a minimal effect on the body’s cholesterol levels. It is the saturated fat intake that can have more of an impact on our cholesterol levels.

For ideas on healthy recipes have a look at our Eat Better page

Being active

Being physically active and aiming for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week (for adults) can help with cholesterol levels as well as help you lose weight, lower blood pressure and keep your heart healthy.

For more information on keeping fit check out our Get Active page


Smoking can make your ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol stick to your artery walls – subsequently clogging them up.

For more information on getting local support to stop smoking in Hounslow visit our Stop Smoking page


We know drinking too much alcohol can have an impact on our health, and it can also increase our cholesterol levels. Try to stick within the guidelines on alcohol.

For more information take a look at our Drink Less page


Being a healthy weight and keeping an eye on your waistline can also help with your cholesterol levels. Taking steps to lose weight can improve your overall health.

Find out if you are eligible to join our 12 week adult weight management programme – Healthier Me

Did you know that if you are aged between 40 – 74 you may be eligible for a free NHS health check? This health check includes measuring your cholesterol levels.

If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels speak to your GP.

For more information on living a healthy lifestyle visit the NHS Better Health page

Cholesterol NHS blog written by

Gopi Chandratheva

Farhanda Shah