The waxy fat-like substance we refer to us “cholesterol” definitely has its good sides but we tend to focus mainly on its “ugly” side maybe for good reason; it is an invisible killer and may creep up on you without warning. No one likes to fight an opponent he or she cannot see.
Yes you may have read or heard about the contradictions in “The World of Cholesterol”, I urge you to keep your levels within the recommended range even if you choose not to use medication.
These 10 facts about cholesterol may help us make the appropriate decisions;
- Cholesterol is found only in animal foods
- Plants have no cholesterol but this is no visa to over-indulge in plant foods high in fat. High fat diets end up “advising” the liver to release cholesterol into the blood stream.
- We cannot live without cholesterol
- Without cholesterol, we will not be able to produce sex hormones, balancing the body’s stress response will be impossible and our cells will have incomplete walls.
- Cholesterol is a Silent Killer
- Like many of its cohorts (high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes) you will never know your cholesterol levels unless you check. Your “non-good” cholesterol levels could be extremely high yet you will feel perfectly normal
- High Cholesterol is the single most important factor associated with cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease
- Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) include stroke, heart attack and complications of high blood pressure.
- The modifiable risk factors for CVD are; high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cigarette smoking and lack of adequate physical activity.
- Very few people inherit a condition where the body produces excess amounts of cholesterol
- Excess cholesterol builds up inside arteries making them rigid and narrowing their lumen
- Rigid arteries are unable to expand to allow increased blood flow and may rupture (burst) easily leading to conditions such as stroke and heart attack.
- To assess our cholesterol levels appropriately, we need to take a blood sample after fasting for approximately 12 hours
- Fasting Lipid profile (or fasting lipid panel) gives us a great picture of the different cholesterols
- Total Cholesterol; this may be determined even when we are not fasting
- HDL referred to as Good Cholesterol
- LDL aka Bad Cholesterol
- Triglycerides also known as Sugary Cholesterol and others.
- Cholesterol levels cannot be determined based on how fat or thin a person may be
- A thin person may have ridiculously high Bad Cholesterol levels while an obese person may be within the normal range. Do not predict cholesterol level based on size, use a blood sample!!
- Cholesterol-rich foods – limit intake
- Fatty meats and processed meats such as sausage and bacon
- Butter, cheese, ice-cream and full cream milk
- Mayonnaise and salad creams
- Fats and oils (groundnut and palm nut are not excluded)
- Many fast foods
- Fried foods such as kelewele, koose and doughnuts
- Lifestyle changes help combat cholesterol challenges
- Depending on what we eat, cholesterol levels can go up or down substantially in a few weeks. We should learn to boil, grill, roast or bake food instead of frying. Oats, bran bread, brown rice, beans, vegetables, fruits, onions and garlic are all great choices. REMEMBER TO EAT BREAKFAST!!
- Exercise daily. If you are diagnosed with high cholesterol do not get overly aggressive. Start exercising at a low intensity and increase the intensity gradually. Walking, swimming and cycling can do wonders for you.
- Lose excess weight
- Stop smoking
- Reduce alcohol intake
The decision is ultimately yours but I urge you to check your “cholesterol” as soon as possible. Remember cholesterol is a silent killer and may not give you any warning signs.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Health Essentials/St Andrews Clinic
Dr Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.
Thought for the week – “If you have high Cholesterol it doesn’t mean giving up on the things you enjoy. Instead you will have to adopt new healthy habits, learn about the condition and work with a team of healthcare professionals to reach your goals.”
- Eating to manage cholesterol – Laurene Boateng
- Health by Choice not Chance by Aileen Ludington, MD et al
- AstraZeneca patient education materials
- CVS Pharmacy educational leaflets
*Join us at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel Healthy Lifestyle Programme at 6am on Saturday August 26th 2017; STRENGTHEN your heart, MAKE new friends, LEARN ways to be healthy and ENJOY a healthy breakfast. See You