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Cholesterol

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Cholesterol is a type of fat required for good health. It is a normal component of most body tissues, yet high blood levels can increase the risk of developing health issues (e.g. heart disease).

Symptoms

High cholesterol levels are asymptomatic, and in many cases the first sign of any problem is a serious health issue. To help reduce the risk of this occurring, cholesterol levels are measured by a simple blood test. Your healthcare professional can organise this for you, along with other measurements of your cardiovascular health, such as blood pressure testing.

Cholesterol is transported through the blood stream in particles known as lipoproteins . The two most important varieties of lipoproteins to be aware of are low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).

High levels of LDL-cholesterol can lead to fatty deposits in the artery walls referred to as atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries". Atherosclerosis makes the blood vessels narrower and stiffer, and consequently increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. This form of cholesterol is sometimes referred to as "bad" cholesterol.    

High-density lipoproteins (HDL-cholesterol) help to reduce the risk of heart disease  as they have the ability to help remove excess cholesterol from the arteries and other parts of the body. For this reason they are sometimes referred to as "good" cholesterol.

The narrowing of the arteries associated with high cholesterol levels can sometimes cause symptoms of chest pain (angina)  or leg pain intermittent claudication, especially with exercise.

High production of cholesterol by the liver may contribute to the development of gallstones, symptoms of which include episodic abdominal and back pain, especially after consumption of fatty foods.

Causes

Cholesterol levels in the blood depend on both dietary factors and the amount of cholesterol manufactured by the body. High consumption of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol in foods may make your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels rise.

Genetics also play a role in some people with high cholesterol. Your genes will partly determine how much cholesterol you naturally produce. Familial hypercholesterolaemia is more likely to be present in people who experience a heart attack at an early age or who have a family member who had a heart attack at an early age.

Being overweight contributes to increased LDL-cholesterol.

Other blood markers that may be associated with high cholesterol levels and are also risk factors for cardiovascular disease include high levels of a compound called homocysteine and high blood levels of triglycerides (fats).

Free radical damage to cholesterol molecules is believed to increase their ability to damage blood vessels.

Diet and lifestyle

  • Remember that cholesterol is not a disease in itself, but an indicator of the risk of developing heart disease. Your healthcare professional will consider your cholesterol level in the context of other risk factors such as your family history, blood pressure, level of physical activity and whether you are diabetic or smoke cigarettes.
  • To help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, reduce the quantity of cholesterol and saturated and trans fats in your diet. This involves avoiding animal fats (meat and full-fat dairy products) and sources of hidden fat such as pastries and pies.  
  • At the same time, increase the amount of fish in your diet (but not deep fried fish), and eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains. 
  • A diet high in soluble fibre is highly recommended in order to promote the excretion of cholesterol. Good sources include legumes, oats and psyllium.
  • Eating moderate amounts of foods that contain monounsaturated fats may support the management of healthy normal cholesterol levels. Important foods to include in your diet include nuts (especially walnuts), seeds and olive oil.   
  • Garlic and onion have cholesterol-lowering properties and are valuable additions to your diet.   
  • Limit your alcohol consumption to 1-2 standard drinks per day, and avoid binge drinking. 
  • Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking significantly increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other health problems, and can exacerbate the negative effects of high cholesterol levels.   
  • Regular aerobic exercise can be of benefit to those with high cholesterol levels.  Aim for at least 30 minutes of brisk walking per day. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional before commencing an exercise programme.
  • If you are overweight, talk to your healthcare professional about ways to address this, as being overweight may contribute to raised LDL and triglyceride levels.

Important notes

  • Your cholesterol level is only one aspect of your cardiovascular health profile and should be addressed in conjunction with other risk factors. Talk to your healthcare professional for more information.

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Hi Martina,
Thanks for your post.
The symptoms you have described are not a known or common reaction to Krill oil. It may be best for you to contact our Naturopathic Advisory team so that we can discuss this with you further. You can get in touch with the Advisory team by calling us on 1800-803-760, or you can email us at advice@blackmores.com.au
Kind regards,
Charmaine (Blackmores Naturopath)
Charmaine
Charmaine 12 Apr 2013
Hi, I have high cholesterol and the doctor prescribed Crestor 10 to be taken 1 per day. I recently started taking Krill oil and was wondering would there be any side effects in taking them with Crestor. I have been experiencing really bad pains in my legs. In one leg it is like muscle pain and the other it is like sciatica. Thank you in advance.
Anonymous
Anonymous 12 Apr 2013
Dear Irene,
Thank you for your comment.
I am sorry to hear about your latest cholesterol reading and I would recommend that you remain in contact with your health care professional for regular testing.
In terms of supplements, both Cholesterol Health and Fish oil are used in the management of healthy cholesterol levels, however, Cholesterol Health is the most specific and the use of the active ingredient (plant sterols) is endorsed by the Australian Heart foundation.
Here are a couple of links to the Heart Foundation website and clinical trials involving plant sterols that you may find interesting :
http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/plantsterol.pdf
http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/HF%20Phytosterol%20Stanol%20QA%20General.pdf
I trust this information has been helpful Irene and I wish you all the best with your health.
Kind regards, Rebekah (a Blackmores naturopath)
hi! i'm 33 and i recently learned that my cholesterol level is high at 250 the bad cholesterol dominating the charts. I just want to know which is better between blackmores omega daily and cholesterol health that would lower my cholesterol level. I know that my friends who have high CL are taking fish oil supplements so i wonder which is more appropriate to take. thank you very much in advance!
Anonymous
Anonymous 06 Feb 2013
Hi Ruvani,

Thank you for your post.

Unfortunately it is almost impossible to predict when you would see improvement from any supplement that you may take as this depends on many individual factors – including your current diet, nutrition status, lifestyle factors and individual biochemistry.

To help manage your cholesterol try incorporating as many of the recommendations in the article above, and work towards reaching a healthy body weight.

If you need some further advice, please contact the Blackmores Naturopathic Advisory service on 1800-803-760, or email us at advice@blackmores.com.au

Kind regards, Charmaine (Blackmores Naturopath)
Charmaine
Charmaine 21 Dec 2012
I am 57 years of age, of moderate weight and have high cholesterol 7.4 . I intend taking your tablet "Cholesterol Health " How long should I wait before seeing an improvement ?
Thanks
Anonymous
Anonymous 21 Dec 2012
Hello Edward, Being overweight can be the result of a number of conditions, which may need to be assessed further by your doctor. Digestive problems, hormonal problems, dietary imbalances, constipation and thyroid issues can all contribute to weight gain. For cholesterol maintenance, products with plant sterols may help to reduce cholesterol absorption. Plant sterols are fat-like compounds with a chemical structure that is very similar to cholesterol. During digestion, the plant sterols compete with cholesterol for absorption so less cholesterol is absorbed and more cholesterol is excreted. The following dietary changes can help to manage cholesterol and weight loss: Increase fibre: certain forms of fibre such as oat bran, slippery elm powder and psyllium seeds encourage cholesterol excretion Garlic may help to reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides Reduce saturated fats like meat and dairy, refined carbohydrates and sugar Increase essential fatty acids levels by eating fish a few times per week, raw nuts and seeds, avocados. Exercise regularly-this can help reduce 'bad' cholesterol and increase 'good' cholesterol. Manage stress as it alone can make quite a significant impact on cholesterol. Eat more fruit and vegies, esp. in the raw form, esp. apples and bitter rocket. The herb: Milk Thistle may be helpful also. Drink plenty of purified water, 6-8 glasses/day. If you would like to contact the Naturopathic Advisory Service the number is 1800 803 760 or email us on advice@blackmores.com.au Kind regards, Gina (Blackmore’s naturopath)



Anonymous
Anonymous 12 Dec 2012
Excellent.....any advise on cholesterol and weight loss will be appreciated.
Anonymous
Anonymous 11 Dec 2012