Doc Talk #144 – Cholesterol

In this show we discussed cholesterol. We talked about what it is, how it is made and its effect on the body.

Did you know that cholesterol is actually essential for the body to function? It is important in making hormones, for the brain structure and in processing some vitamins.

Most cholesterol does not come from the diet, but is actually manufactured by the liver.

We talked about the different kinds of cholesterol, not all cholesterol is equal! Certain types are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and other vascular disease.

Should you have your cholesterol tested? It is recommended if you are over the age of 40. Most people won’t have to fast for the blood test. It might be worth getting it checked earlier if you are at particular risk (strong family history, certain ethnic groups, diabetes, kidney disease). Generally, unless you are making changes to medications, then you probably need to have it checked only every 5 years or so (certainly no need for a test every year!).

There isn’t a simple target number for your cholesterol – your physician will look at all of your risk factors together to determine how much your risk of heart disease or stroke is, and this will be used to guide treatment decisions.

There has been some controversy around cholesterol and diet. In general, avoiding too much saturated fat (typically hard fats and red meats) whilst ensuring adequate intake of non-soluble fibre through wholegrains can help to lower cholesterol. Learn more about the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet, both of which can help reduce cholesterol.

We discussed some foods which can lower cholesterol (and some that don’t!).

Click the link above to listen more and by the end of the show you’ll be well on the well to becoming a cholesterol expert!

Image by anokarina from United States – CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)