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HealthInfo Canterbury

High cholesterol

This page has links to information in Māori.

Cholesterol is a type of fat in the body. Having high cholesterol is common and can cause your blood vessels to narrow. This can lead to serious health problems, such as heart attacks and strokes.

We eat different types of fats, and they have different effects on our cholesterol levels. Eating a lot of unhealthy fat (fat on meat, chicken skin and full-fat dairy products, butter and takeaway foods) can lead to higher cholesterol. Eating more healthy fats (vegetable oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish) can help to lower your cholesterol level and reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The Heart Foundation Guide to eating for a healthy heart gives advice on eating for a healthy heart.

High cholesterol can also run in families, so some people inherit it.

As well as watching what you eat, aiming for a healthy weight, keeping physically active, and reducing the amount of alcohol you drink can help to improve your cholesterol level. Along with these lifestyle changes, cholesterol-lowering medicines can be an effective way to help bring down your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

For more ideas on how to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, read the Heart Foundation's advice on managing your risk.

This factsheet explains what cholesterol is, what it does, how to get your cholesterol checked, and what to do about it. You can also read the page on Understanding your cholesterol results.

If you have been told you have high cholesterol and a higher risk of heart attack or stroke you can work through this Heart Foundation action plan with your doctor or practice nurse. It will help you to work out steps you can take towards a healthier heart.

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