What is LDL Cholesterol?

Low Density Lipoprotein, otherwise known as LDL-cholesterol, is part of a group of substances called lipoproteins that your body produces to transport cholesterol in the body.

LDL-cholesterol is often called “bad cholesterol” – this is because the cholesterol contained in LDL particles can, over time, build up on the artery walls. Elevated LDL-cholesterol is widely known to be one of the risk factors in developing coronary heart disease. There are many risk factors for coronary heart disease and it is important to take care of all of them to reduce the overall risk of it.

Measuring your LDL-cholesterol level

If your cholesterol test has shown you have elevated cholesterol, it is likely that your LDL-cholesterol is above the recommended level.

The Irish Heart Foundation recommends that your level of LDL-cholesterol should be:

  • 3mmol/L or less for healthy adults
  • 2.5mmol/L or less for those at high risk of developing heart disease

How to lower LDL-cholesterol levels

You should always consult a GP for advice when it comes to interpreting your test results and for help to lower cholesterol. The good news is that there are quite a few things that you can do to help reduce LDL-cholesterol. While some of the reasons people develop elevated cholesterol are out of our control (including age and gender), there are a number of factors we can manage ourselves. Your healthcare professional is likely to make several recommendations regarding dietary and lifestyle changes.

LDL-cholesterol and your diet

  • One of the most effective ways of lowering elevated LDL-cholesterol is to reduce your intake of saturated fats and trans fatty acids by replacing them with unsaturated fats*. Our handy Simple Swaps page is great way to discover small dietary changes you can make while still enjoying the food you eat.
  • A healthy, balanced, and varied diet is also important. There is evidence that the dietary fibre found in oats and barley has cholesterol-lowering benefit. Elsewhere on this site we’ve also created some great recipe ideas to help get you started.
  • Another option is to introduce food with added plant sterols into your diet. Flora ProActiv contains added plant sterols – an active ingredient that is clinically proven to lower cholesterol*.

A daily consumption of 1.5 – 2.4g plant sterol can lower cholesterol 7-10% in 2-3 weeks if eaten as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle with sufficient fruit and vegetables. Plant sterols are also found naturally in small amounts in many of the foods we eat every day, such as vegetable oils, nuts, cereals, grains, fruits and vegetables.

* High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. There are many risk factors for coronary heart disease and it is important to take care of all of them to reduce the overall risk of it.

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