Cholesterol, which is a soft and waxy substance found in fats within our bloodstream and cells, is vital to our bodies as without it we simply would not survive. Indeed, cholesterol is so vital to our survival that our body can actually produce it without needing foods that contain it. Cholesterol is used to make hormones and cell membranes but consuming too much of it can "fur up" the arteries, which can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Our bloodstream contains "good" (HDL) and "bad" (LDL) cholesterol, with HDL cholesterol protecting the body and removing the damaging LDL cholesterol from our artery walls. This means HDL cholesterol reverses the process that can lead to a heart attack or stroke and the higher the HDL cholesterol level in our bloodstream, the lower the risk of coronary artery disease.
It is important then that you have a healthy cholesterol profile and here is a brief list of ideas of how you can improve yours:
• Get in shape and stay there - your cholesterol levels are more likely to be healthy if your BMI is less than 25. You should also look to cut down on any excess inches around your waist
• Make sure the food you eat is the right food - cut down on the saturated fats you eat, increase your fruit and vegetable intake and eat more omega 3 fats. You will find these in oily fish and nuts.
• Take regular exercise - all you need to find is 30 minutes a day for moderate activity. You can get this by taking a brisk walk, gentle cycling, swimming or even through vigorous housework or gardening.
• Stop smoking - tobacco is a killer for HDL - smoking will knock the amount in your system down and seriously compromise the beneficial effects of what's left.
• Limit how much alcohol you drink - stay within healthy limits as excessive drinking can seriously affect your cholesterol profile and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease