Liver function and cholesterol are much more closely linked than we pay attention to. People with high blood cholesterol are more likely to develop the Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, and liver problems increase the likelihood of high cholesterol; A virtuous cycle that we need to break.
Everyone has some cholesterol in their blood, but high levels can lead to a build-up of fat in your liver and damage the liver.
So, What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is vital for the proper functioning of the body. The liver plays a key role in regulating cholesterol levels in the body, firstly by making cholesterol to be delivered to cells that need it around the body, and secondly by removing cholesterol by converting it to bile salts so the body can get rid of it in bile and faeces. If your liver is damaged or is poorly functioning, the production of bile may be reduced, which can result in increased cholesterol levels.
Types of cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol carried in your blood by proteins.
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) - also referred to as ‘good cholesterol’ as higher levels are better
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) – also referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’ as too much can clog up your arteries.
What should my cholesterol levels be?
As there are not usually any symptoms of high blood cholesterol, it is hard to tell whether you have high cholesterol without having a blood test. Total cholesterol levels should be 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults.
How can I lower my cholesterol?
There are some simple diet and lifestyle adjustments you can make to help lower your cholesterol. Here are some ideas.
- A healthy diet with plenty plant-based foods and whole grain cereals.
- Limiting or avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat such as butter, lard, fatty meat, sausages, cheese, pies and cakes. Instead choose foods that contain unsaturated fats.
- Regular exercise
- Give up smoking