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Managing cholesterol in menopause

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

cholesterol and menopause

October is Menopause Month and on Friday 15th October Nicola will be joining three other health practitioners to talk about different aspects of our health in menopause. Nicola’s talk will be all about cholesterol health and menopause – a topic that is close to her heart (excuse the pun!) as there is already three generations of heart disease on her father’s side, including her father and two of his three siblings!

Menopause Wellness

Book your ticket here for just £19 and you get access to all four talks .

They are also being recorded so register anyway even if you can’t tune in live, and listen in our own time.

Cholesterol and oestrogen are intrinsically linked. Whilst we are still learning about how oestrogen impacts the body, we do know that it impacts the cardiovascular system:

  1. Increasing HDL cholesterol (good)

  2. Decreasing LDL cholesterol (bad)

  3. Helps to increase blood flow in blood vessels

  4. Mops up free radicals (free radicals are naturally occurring particles that, if left unchecked, can damage the arteries and other tissues.

Some of us can go our whole lives with normal cholesterol readings and then we hit menopause! But, when oestrogen naturally declines in menopause, this often results in lipid and cholesterol changes, and we begin to see a rise in total cholesterol levels and higher LDL levels which increases our risk of heart disease. As we age, our blood vessels also become stiffer as a result of high blood pressure which is also a risk factor in stroke and heart disease.

Women in the UK are twice as likely to die of coronary heart disease, the main cause of heart attack, as those who die from breast cancer.

In fact, research suggests that women develop heart disease 10 years later than men, but by the age of 65, their risk is equal to that of men. The good news is that by making changes to your diet and lifestyle you can reduce your risk. First steps include:

  1. Quit smoking (both cigarettes and vaping) – no excuses!

  2. Get moving! You need to be exercising for 30-40 minutes, three to five times per week. This doesn’t mean you have to start running, but a brisk walk is a great way to get your heart rate up. For when your heart rate increases it helps to pump blood through your arteries, and exercise helps to activate a specific enzyme that is responsible for developing HDL's, and therefore increasing the amount released into the blood.

  3. Ditch the sugar! Sugar, not fat, is one of the biggest drivers of cholesterol in today’s Western diet because sugar converts to fat. Sugar is also inflammatory and inflammation is one of the main causes of heart disease.

  4. Eat a diet high in fibre – e.g. nuts, seeds, oats, fruits and vegetables. Soluble fibre can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your blood stream and oats are one of the best sources of soluble fibre.

  5. Get rid of trans-fats not all fats – trans-fats are found in products like margarine (yes, including the margarine brand that claims it helps lower cholesterol – plant sterols yes, in margarine no!), processed foods and baked goods (biscuits, pastries, etc).

One of the biggest misnomers about cholesterol is that all fat has to go from the diet when you get told you have high cholesterol. This is not the case! It is about the type of fat (like trans-fats) not how much fat you consume, for our body still needs good fats for optimal health (e.g. oily fish, nuts and seeds, extra virgin olive oil etc)

We also still need cholesterol as we age, so we don’t want to lower it too much. For example, cholesterol is needed to make myelin sheaths which is the fatty protective coverings that insulate our nerve cells and protect us from conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

There are other factors that influence our cholesterol levels too ranging from genetics (I’ve checked mine), homocysteine levels and B vitamins, weight, inflammation, gut dysbiosis and hypothyroid.

So if you have high cholesterol, have a familial risk of heart disease or are moving into menopause and want to know more about how to protect your heart and your health, join Nicola on Friday 15th October, 2021 where she will talk you through practical solutions you can take to manage your cholesterol on menopause.





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