Pasta la vista, Cholesterol!

The stats are pretty shocking, every 3 minutes someone dies from a heart and circulatory condition in the UK! Over 7.6 million (!) people are living with a cardiovascular condition in the UK only! These are fresh stats from April 2023 from the British Heart Foundation.

Did you know that changing your lifestyle and diet can massively improve your heart health and reduce your risks of developing cardiovascular disease (along other conditions) and improving your metabolic health? However, it takes time, effort, willingness to break habits. In return you have better chances to grow old while also stay fit and healthy.

I have joined the research of Our Future Health. They work closely with the NHS and do research to figure out contributing factors for certain conditions with the aim to be able to prevent these for the future generations. My first appointment was at my local Boots, the nurse was absolutely fantastic. I have needle phobia so the nurse took special care of making me feel comfortable. She did a finger prick blood test (which was the worst part for me) and took a blood sample for the lab. I didn’t faint or feel sick which often happens when I have a blood test. She checked my weight, height, took my waist measurement. She also gave me my cholesterol readings. The whole thing didn’t take longer than half an hour. If you have the time and want to quickly check your cholesterol levels, this is the way to go. I could never give blood so I feel like I have done something good for a great cause.

Here is the chart from the BHF to translate your results when you get them.

What is cholesterol?

It is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body naturally produces and is also found in certain foods. It plays a crucial role in building cell membranes and producing hormones, but too much of it in your blood can increase the risk of heart-related health issues.

HDL cholesterol (or High-density lipoproteins) is often referred to as the ”good cholesterol”. It takes the “bad cholesterol” to your liver where it can be broken down.

LDL cholesterol (or Low-density lipoproteins) is referred to as “bad cholesterol”. Too much of this can build up within your endothelium (the walls of your blood vessels) and narrow these. This means this can cause blockage so your blood can’t flow easily, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Triglycerides: type of fat that can also build up if you have too much fatty food, sugary food, alcohol.


My top tips for better heart health:

Reduce your red meat intake, especially processed ones! Processed red meats contain lots of salt and saturated fats that can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). The saturated fats can clog up the arteries causing havoc in the system. Try cut these out or limit them as much as you can. Choose a lean steak, poultry or fish instead. Red lean meat, like a good quality steak is a great source of haem iron, which gets absorbed faster and too much of it can cause toxicity and organ damage. Haem iron (derived from animal sources, especially red meat) while non-haem iron is from plant sources.

Cook with healthy oils! Cook with olive oil and use coconut oil for frying. Even better, if you can avoid frying and instead use your oven, air fryer, slow cooker or steam where possible. Sunflower and vegetable oils will overload your body with omega 6 which can worsen inflammation. This will also increase your risk for CVD. Olive oil contains omega 9 that has no effect on inflammation and will be a better option.

Choose your salt wisely! Consuming too much salt can raise blood pressure. Sodium chloride (AKA salt) pulls water into the blood vessels, increasing the pressure within them. It is also vasoconstrictive which means, it makes the blood vessels narrower and smaller, increasing the risk of rupture and damage to the endothelium (blood vessel lining). It basically makes it harder for the blood to flow easily as it should. 

  • Adults should have less than 6 grams (1 tsp) of salt a day.
  • Check your food labels, remember even simple things like ketchup will have added salt, so do the ready made salad dressings.
  • Choose sea salt or Himalayan salt that also contains minerals ad not just sodium chloride.

Make your plate colourful! Aim for at least 30 different plants a week so that your body is fuelled with varied source of vitamins and minerals. Try i.e. different shades of carrots, a new variety of mushrooms. This will ensure that your gut bacteria is also fed well with all the dietary fibre you nourish it with. This can help reduce blood pressure and also inflammation.

Limit processed carbs! Pastries, donuts, packaged breads and bakes will contain lots of sugar and white flour that has very little nutritional value. Swap these for wholemeal versions and choose homemade bakes, breads if you can. These won’t spike your blood sugar as much, in turn you will crave less and less likely put weight on.

Manage your stress levels! Stress increases your heartrate, cortisol levels and this can exacerbate already existing conditions. Create a self-care routine that is kind to your heart and can bring down the stress levels is very important in both preventing and managing CVD.

Stay active! Staying active is a crucial part of looking after your heart. Choose walking when you can and take the stairs instead of the lift. If you have a desk job and sit for many hours, make sure you stand up and stretch. Use a standing desk if this is an option. You can also do some stretches while seated, every little movement counts.

There are other things to bear in mind too, limiting alcohol intake and quitting smoking, but these are not just important for your heart health but overall wellbeing. Reducing caffeine intake if you are used to having many cups a day, try swapping with decaf versions that will not raise your heart rate so quickly.

Also, there is the element of being socially active, surround yourself with positive people and those you feel comfortable with, who you can rely on if you need to. A sense of community and social interactions will also look after your heart, literally!

If you want to work on your health, contact me to book in a free discovery call.


Here is a great guide from the British Heart Foundation, if you want to find out more about cholesterol: High Cholesterol – Symptoms, Causes & Levels – BHF