Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in your body. Your liver naturally produces some cholesterol as it is used in a number of essential bodily processes, such as the digestion of food. You also get additional cholesterol from the foods you eat.
There are two types of cholesterol to remember:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) carries most of the cholesterol that is delivered to cells. It is sometimes called the ‘bad’ cholesterol because if there is too much of it in your bloodstream, it can clog up your arteries.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) helps remove excess cholesterol out of the cells. It is sometimes called the ‘good’ cholesterol.
If you have too much saturated fats and not enough ‘good’ fats in your diet, it can cause problems for your blood vessels and your heart. Triglycerides tell you the amount of another type of fat that can be found in your bloodstream, so it is important to watch these levels too.
People with diabetes generally have similar total cholesterol levels to the general population. However, people with diabetes, on average, tend to have higher levels of ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol and higher levels of triglycerides than people without diabetes.
What should my cholesterol levels be?
Health authorities recommend total cholesterol levels for people with diabetes should be under 4.0 mmol/L.
LDL cholesterol should be less than 2.0mmol/L and triglycerides should be less than 2.0mmol/L.
HDL cholesterol should be higher than 1.0mmol/L, as this will help to protect the heart and blood vessels.
However, you should speak with your doctor to set a target range that is right and safe for you.
When should I have this test?
Your doctor should arrange a cholesterol test every year unless it is otherwise recommended.
What does this test involve?
This is a simple blood test.
What can I do at home to lower my cholesterol?
You can increase the amount of poly- and mono-unsaturated fats while at the same time decreasing saturated fats. Some common foods high in saturated fats include pies, cakes, cream biscuits, processed deli meats and hot chips.