Cholesterol - Do you know your levels?

Cholesterol – Do you know your levels?

Many of us know that too much cholesterol is bad for us – but do we know the difference between good and bad cholesterol? Or how this works in our body?

Cholesterol, what is it?

The Irish Heart Foundation explains cholesterol as:

“Your blood vessels and heart are called your cardiovascular system. One of the best ways to prevent cardiovascular disease (such as strokeheart attack and angina) is to keep your cholesterol at a healthy level.

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood. You need a certain amount to produce hormones. But too much cholesterol sticks to your artery walls to form plaque. This plaque can build up and may block or narrow the artery. This process is called atherosclerosis.

If an artery becomes blocked, the heart muscle becomes damaged, this is known as a heart attack. If an artery to the brain is blocked, it may damage the brain, and this is called a stroke.”

Why do we need cholesterol?

There are good and bad cholesterol. The good cholesterol is needed by the body for:


  • Healthy structure of the membrane
  • Insulate nerve fibres
  • Produce hormones, such as sex and steroid hormones
  • Assists in fat absorption

Cholesterol is carried through the body by blood molecules called lipoproteins. The two main types are LDL (Low density lipoproteins) and HDL (High density lipoproteins).

LDL is the main cholesterol, carrying cholesterol from the liver to the cells that need it. This becomes dangerous when your LDL levels are too high as it can cause a build up in the artery walls. This leads to disease in the arteries.

HDL do the opposite, it carries cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver where it is broken down. The higher levels of this the better!

Tips to manage your cholesterol levels!

First you should know a little about which foods decrease your LDL levels and increase your HDL levels. We call these bad and good cholesterol foods.

Good Cholesterol Foods

Heart UK advise us that these foods are oat cereals, fruit, vegetables, soya foods, beans and nuts such as the below list::

  • Porridge
  • Oatbran
  • Oat breakfast cereals
  • Bread made with 50% oat flour or oat bran
  • Oatcakes
  • Pearl barley
  • Baked beans
  • Adzuki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, butter beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas, edamame beans, kidney beans, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans, pinto beans, split peas, white beans
  • Red lentils, green lentils
  • Vegetables rich in soluble fibre such as okra, aubergine, citrus fruits, turnip, sweet potato and mango
  • Unsalted soya nuts (also called roasted edamame beans)
  • Soya alternative to milk
  • Soya alternative to yoghurt
  • Soya mince/chunks
  • Tofu
  • Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, cashews, peanuts (always unsalted)


Bad Cholesterol Foods

Eating too much saturated fats increases bad cholesterol levels. In addition to this, lifestyle activities such as Smoking, although not food, has a negative impact on Cholesterol – If possible you should consider giving up the cigarettes for good. Higgins Pharmacy Sligo has various treatments to assist you in reducing and eventually giving up smoking for good.

  • Butter
  • Hard margarines
  • Lard, dripping and goose fat
  • Fatty meat and meat products such as sausages
  • Full fat cheese, milk, cream and yogurt
  • Coconut and palm oils and coconut cream

Additionally, many foods such as milk chocolate, toffee, cakes, puddings, pastries, pies and rich biscuits, which are made from the list above, can also increase cholesterol.

Higgins Pharmacy Sligo recommend Revive Active supplementation. This is a super supplement with 26 active ingredients delivering multiple benefits in one convenient daily sachet. Consume first thing in the morning,before food for optimum absorption. It is excellent for heart health as it contains thiamine, L-arginine,citrulline and co-enzyme co 10 which helps protect against the side effects of statins. Buy Here 

Higgins Pharmacy Sligo also recommend Armolipid, a natural, over-the-counter food supplement, which supports the maintenance of healthy cholesterol. Armolipid contains red yeast rice, folic acid and co-enzyme co-10. Buy here

What to do now?

First things first! The amount of cholesterol in the blood (including both LDL and HDL) can be measured with a blood test.

Before you plan a new diet which recognises good and bad cholesterol you should get tested!

A cholesterol test is simple and easy. Higgins Pharmacy Sligo – Market Cross pharmacy now offer cholesterol testing and you can book your test on: (071) 914 2396 Or pop into our pharmacy.






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