Cholesterol: Everything You Need to Know & Tips to Improve your Cholesterol Profile

If your health screening results indicate that your blood cholesterol levels hover around the high end, there’s no need to fret just yet. With a better understanding of how cholesterol production in your body works and with a few adjustments to your diet, your cholesterol levels can be lowered to the normal range over time.

 

What is cholesterol?

cholesterol

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Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that your body naturally produces for a variety of functions, including the formation of cell membranes and production of certain hormones, vitamin D and bile acids.

You can have an excess of cholesterol if your body makes more than it needs, or if you consume a diet high in cholesterol as your body does not adjust its own production automatically.

Cholesterol is carried throughout your body by lipoproteins, special particles made up of fat droplets surrounded by a single layer of phospholipid. There are two types of lipoproteins which are commonly known as low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL):

LDL: Brings the cholesterol to where it’s needed in the body. However, if there’s an excess of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, it gets deposited on the walls of arteries, creating a plaque build-up.

HDL: Known as the “good” cholesterol as it carries excess cholesterol circulating in the bloodstream back to the liver where it is broken down and eliminated. A high HDL level helps to protect you against heart disease and stroke.

 

Reading Your Cholesterol Profile

High LDL-cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, while high HDL-cholesterol counteracts this risk.

The best way to take your cholesterol reading is through a blood test called a lipid panel or lipid profile. You will need to fast for 9 to 12 hours prior to taking this test. The test will determine the amounts of total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood, measured in miligrams per decilitre of blood (mg.dL).

The Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommends the following cholesterol levels as optimal for both men and women:

  • Total cholesterol less than 200 miligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) or 5.2 mmol/L
  • LDL cholesterol less than 130 mg/dL or 3.3 mmol/L
  • HDL cholesterol greater than 40mg/dL or 1.0 mmol/L

 

What can you do to maintain healthy cholesterol levels? Head over to the next page for some tips from the Singapore Health Promotion Board.

 

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