What exactly is cholesterol?

What is it?
You’ve definitely heard the word ‘cholesterol’ being thrown around - on TV, on the back of food packaging and at the doctor’s office. It seems to be a word that’s permeating every conversation, but what exactly is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance found in food. It’s not necessarily always bad, but like all things, too much can be a bad thing.
The yin and yang of cholesterol
Bad cholesterol
LDL (low density lipoproteins) are the bad kind of cholesterol. This is the sneaky harmful cholesterol that can lead to heart diseases and strokes. The lower your levels of LDL, the better your health.
Good cholesterol
It may seem difficult to wrap your head around this next one, but there are actually good kinds of cholesterol! HDL is the opposite of LDL, and high levels of HDL can actually reduce your risk of medical diseases.
Why is it important + Consequences?
When there are high levels of the bad LDL cholesterol in your body, it can build up inside your blood vessels and block it. This means there is a smaller pathway for your blood to pass through and less blood is getting to your organs. Eventually, there is too much blockage in your blood vessels and this can lead to strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure or diabetes.
How to manage it?
This can be scary to think about but fortunately, there are ways to reduce your risk.
Together, let’s remember to check, change and control.
Check your cholesterol levels. It’s key to know your numbers and assess your risk. In fact, the older you get, the more cholesterol accumulates in your body.
We can help you with this! At 1st of the month, we send regular notifications reminding you to book those blood tests to check your cholesterol.
Change your diet and lifestyle to help improve your levels
- Make sure you eat lots of oats, fruits & veges, nuts, beans, wholegrain
- Prioritize home cooking - check out some of our favorite home recipeshere.
- Stop smoking
- Exercise: walking, running, cycling, swimming. Here are our favorite walking trails in Melbourne - perfect for day today.
Control your cholesterol, with help from your doctor if needed
When to go to the doctor?
The scariest part about cholesterol is that there are little to no symptoms until it is too late! That’s why it is so important to prevent rather than treat.
You should have your cholesterol checked every 5 years from the age of 45 years, or from 18 years if you are an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. If you have a family history of high cholesterol, speak to your doctor about your heart attack risk. 1st of the Month sends regular cholesterol check reminders so you can stay on top of your health.
Interpreting your results
These are the cholesterol ranges you want, as suggested by CSIRO
Total Cholesterol
Less than 4.0 mmol/L (Individuals at high risk)
Less than 5.5 mmol/L (General population)
Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL)
Less than 1.8mmol/L (Individuals at high risk)
Less than 2.0 mmol/L (General population)
High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (HDL)
More than 1.0mmol/L