The Big Cholesterol Myth

According to new research released, Australians have a distorted opinion of cholesterol sufferers and a laissez-faire attitude towards high cholesterol.

The survey of 1,028 adults was commissioned by the team at Uncle Toby’s to uncover the misconceptions Australians have about cholesterol levels, and who suffers from the disease.

The big cholesterol myths – the results

• 81 per cent of the people surveyed believe a person with high cholesterol is likely to be overweight
• 70 per cent believe they are not physically fit
• 55 per cent believe they are more likely to be female

Attitude towards managing cholesterol – the results

Perhaps owing to these misconceptions, it seems many share a ‘she’ll be right mate’ attitude to managing their cholesterol with:
• Only one in three three (36 per cent) of men and women genuinely concerned about their cholesterol levels, and
• This may stem from a misunderstanding about the disease as 90 per cent of people surveyed are aware that high cholesterol is bad for their health but less than half (43 per cent) know why.

How often people check their cholesterol levels – the results

Despite the health risks, the results of the survey suggest that:
• As many as 3.7 million adults (22 per cent) have never bothered to get their cholesterol levels checked,
• The above insight is surprising considering three quarters (76 per cent) either have, or know someone who has experienced high cholesterol, with an additional 62 per cent of Australians surveyed knowing someone who has had serious health issues resulting from high cholesterol levels.

The facts about cholesterol

Nilani Sritharan, Uncle Toby’s nutritionist, said: “Most Australians have heard the words ‘high cholesterol’ but what this survey suggests is that many of us are unaware of exactly how high cholesterol affects Australian health and wellbeing.”

• High cholesterol can affect adults at any age and of any gender, regardless of weight and fitness levels.
• Cholesterol is an essential type of fat this is carried in the blood. All cells in the body need cholesterol to maintain healthy cell walls and to make hormones, vitamin D and bile acids which aid in fat digestion.
• Eating too much saturated fat can lead to excess cholesterol in the blood stream. While some dietary cholesterol is normally excreted via the liver, excess cholesterol can circulate in the blood stream and clog blood vessels.
• High cholesterol is a major risk factor for developing heart attacks and angina.

What you can do to fight high cholesterol

Leading cardiologist, Doctor Ross Walker said: “The fact that many people are unaware of the dangers of high cholesterol is a concern. High cholesterol in the blood stream is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease. If a person has high levels of cholesterol it leaves them more susceptible to suffering from heart attacks and angina. There are multiple factors that contribute to elevated blood cholesterol which include poor diet, genetics and general metabolic performance. There are, however, many important dietary interventions that have been proven to lower cholesterol and cholesterol re-absorption.”

5 dietary tips for lowering your cholesterol:

1) Consume lots of fruits and vegetables
2) Have an oats based breakfast
3) Include soy-based products
4) Use a cholesterol lowering margarine
5) Eat almonds: 10-15 per day

Check your cholesterol levels regularly

Nilani Sritharan, Uncle Toby’s nutritionist, said: “We urge adults to get their cholesterol levels tested, no matter what their age, size or gender. What’s more, if your tests show that you have high cholesterol then try introducing oats into your daily diet. The humble oat is a natural way to lower your cholesterol re-absorption, alongside a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fats.”

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