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What is cholesterol and how do you control it?

Despite its often negative connotation, cholesterol is not in itself a bad substance. It is in fact essential for our body to be able to perform certain functions. Only when there is a disturbance in the cholesterol metabolism, such as too much cholesterol, problems can occur and the risk of cardiovascular disease increases.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a structural, fatty substance which also plays a role in the production of hormones, vitamin D and bile. Sources of cholesterol are the body’s own production in the liver and absorption from food. In addition, there are several elements that influence the cholesterol level, such as our eating pattern, lifestyle, genetics and so on.

Good and bad cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a necessary substance in the body. However, there is a big difference in the types of cholesterol. It is divided into different groups based on the density of cholesterol in the body.

In order of increasing density :

  • chylomicrons
  • very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL)
  • intermediate-density lipoproteins (IDL)
  • low-density lipoproteins (LDL)
  • high-density lipoproteins (HDL)

LDL: bad cholesterol

LDL cholesterol is generally regarded as ‘bad cholesterol’. The particles with a lower density also belong to this group of ‘bad cholesterol’. Generally speaking, all non-HDL particles can be considered bad cholesterol.

If the normal cholesterol metabolism in the body is disturbed, LDL molecules end up in the blood where they can accumulate and contribute to atherosclerotic plaque formation. These plaques are the source of many cardiovascular-related medical problems.

A blood test therefore mainly looks at the level of LDL in the blood. When this parameter is elevated, it can be an indication of an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

HDL: good cholesterol

HDL cholesterol is known as the ‘good cholesterol’. These particles ensure that excess cholesterol is transported to the liver, where it is broken down. So you want this value to be higher in the body.

The triglyceride level is also often measured in an examination.

Triglycerides are another type of fat, this fat is mainly obtained from food and is used as a source of energy. But here too, an excess can accumulate in the tissues.

Cholesterol values

The cholesterol level is determined with a blood test. This determines the total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels. If there is no hereditary predisposition or increased risk, the test is usually carried out every five years on men aged 35 and over and on women aged 45 and over.

In general, the following recommended cholesterol values are aimed for.

What about the figures in Belgium?

  • According to the 2018 Health Survey, 18% of Belgians aged 15 years and over have had a high blood cholesterol level in the last 12 months.¹
  • High cholesterol is in the top three most reported conditions among people aged 65 and over, 38.1% of men and 36.3% of women suffer from high cholesterol.¹
  • 1,5 million Belgians take statins, in the group of the over-40s even 1 in 4 takes statins.²

How do you get a cholesterol level that is too high?

The level of cholesterol is influenced by a combination of factors. The eating pattern is an important factor, eating too much saturated fats is a huge culprit. But it is important to realise that the eating pattern is not the only one responsible. A hereditary disposition, getting older, overweight, smoking, a reduced function of the thyroid gland or kidneys and diabetes can also have a negative effect on the cholesterol values.

What are the consequences or the symptoms of too high a cholesterol level?

At first sight you don’t notice anything of high cholesterol in daily life. That makes it very treacherous. Only after a few years, when the excess has accumulated in the blood vessels, complaints can arise due to the narrowing. High cholesterol is therefore not a disease in itself but increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, partly due to a poor blood supply, problems can be experienced during exercise because the muscles are not supplied with enough oxygen.

How can you lower your cholesterol?

The most important thing is a healthy lifestyle. This includes a healthy and balanced diet (avoid saturated fats in particular), sufficient exercise, moderate to no alcohol consumption and no smoking.

If the cholesterol level cannot be kept under control in this way, it is best to consult your doctor. He or she can then draw up a treatment plan tailored to your needs and, if necessary, prescribe drugs such as the well-known statins or natural food supplements.

After all, there are many vegetable ingredients in nature that have a positive effect on the cholesterol values in the blood without the known side effects of statins. For example, stalked lacquer mushroom (reishi) contributes to the maintenance of normal cholesterol levels in the blood. It can thus offer a natural approach to keeping good cholesterol levels in balance.

The extensively studied Mediterranean diet consists largely of plant-based ingredients that have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. Olives (Olea Europaea) and olive oil are an important cornerstone of this diet. Besides their positive effects on cardiovascular function, they also support normal blood pressure. Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is also found in several Mediterraenean dishes. The health benefits of artichoke have long been recognised. Even before Christ, the Romans and Greeks used it for digestive support. Besides having a positive effect on digestion, artichoke also contains substances that have a beneficial effect on cholesterol. This is good for general cardiovascular health.

What is cholesterol and how do you control it?

The liver is an essential factor in cholesterol metabolism.

Keeping the liver in good condition is extremely important for a good cholesterol metabolism. The liver is responsible for both synthesis and destruction of cholesterol.


Cholesteril combines red yeast rice with two full-spectrum extracts of olive and artichoke for a wide variety of active ingredients.

    • Artichoke contributes to normal blood lipid levels including cholesterol.
    • Vitamin B1 supports normal heart function.
    • Olive leaf extract supports normal blood pressure and benefits cardiovascular function.

Cholesteril 60

Cholesteril New Generation

Cholesteril New Generation is a unique synergistic combination of high-quality amla and three special plant extracts, including a Full-Spectrum extract of stalked lacquer mushroom (reishi). A Full-Spectrum extract contains the bioactive substances from the complete life cycle of the mushroom. This varied mixture provides full support.

    • The stalked lacquer mushroom (reishi) helps maintain normal cholesterol levels in the blood.

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(1) Health survey 2018: chronic diseases and disorders, Sciensano; (2) KCE (Federal Knowledge Centre for Health) Reports 306A (2019);