What is high cholesterol?

Cholesterol plays an important role in the body, forming part of each cell and is utilised to create bile and steroid hormones. Although important, the liver and other cells can make cholesterol when needed. If cholesterol gets too high, and in conjunction with other risk factors, it can lead to it accumulating in blood vessels. This can result in an interruption or restriction of circulation, termed atherosclerosis and ultimately can lead to conditions such as heart attack and stroke.

What about “good” and “bad” cholesterol?

When we move cholesterol around the body, we put it in different types of packages. When we perform a blood lipid profile, we are able to measure how much there is of each type of cholesterol.

When we are transporting cholesterol in the blood to be used by the cells for important functions we term this “bad cholesterol” or LDL (low- density lipoproteins). Our body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to function well however when it is too much, this creates an increased opportunity for it to accumulate in blood vessels. When cholesterol is being transported away from the cells for the body to get rid of, we call this “good cholesterol” or HDL (High-density lipoprotein). We want our body to be good at removing excess cholesterol from the body.

How do I know if my cholesterol is high?

Your doctor (GP) can request a simple blood test to diagnose you.

How can a dietitian help me?

Our bodies are typically good at regulating cholesterol, however, there are nutritional factors that can impact our bodies ability to do this.

  • We assist you in identifying which components of your current diet are contributing to increasing your LDL cholesterol

  • We help to boost your HDL cholesterol

  • We can give you strategies to help your body use extra cholesterol

  • Teach you how to identify different types of fats

  • We can assist with changes that fit into your life and routine

  • We can check-in and help you stay on track

  • How to read labels for heart health

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Gandy, J., 2014. Manual Of Dietetic Practice. 5th ed. John Wiley & Sons, pp.777-788