Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but high levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. With high cholesterol, you can develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. High cholesterol can be caused by not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol. It can also run in families.
There are many ways in which you can lower your cholesterol
- Eating healthy
- Getting more exercise
- Stop Smoking
- Sometimes taking medicine
Try to eat more:
- oily fish, like mackerel and salmon
- brown rice, bread and pasta
- nuts and seeds
- fruits and vegetables
Try to eat less:
- meat pies, sausages and fatty meat
- butter, lard and ghee
- cream and hard cheese, like cheddar
- cakes and biscuits
- food that contains coconut oil or palm oil
Aim to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week.
Some good things to try when starting out include:
- walking – try to walk fast enough so your heart starts beating faster
Smoking can raise your cholesterol and make you more likely to have serious problems like heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
If you want to stop smoking, you can get help and support from:
- your GP
- the NHS Stop Smoking Service – your GP can refer you or you can ring the helpline on 0300 123 1044 (England only)
They can give you useful tips and advice about ways to stop cravings.
Cut down on alcohol
- avoid drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week
- have several drink-free days each week
- avoid drinking lots of alcohol in a short time (binge drinking)
By keeping your lifestyle factors under control then this can help to keep your cholesterol levels low. High cholesterol does not cause symptoms. You can only find out if you have it from a blood test. Your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high. This may because of your age, weight or another condition you have (like high blood pressure or diabetes). We also test your cholesterol through doing a NHS Health Check so if you are worried about your cholesterol book in with us.