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Cholesterol awareness with Davina McCall

Public health campaign to raise awareness of cholesterol and its importance in heart health

Campaign highlights the risks of one of the biggest silent health threats – high cholesterol.

Cholesterol affects six in 10 adults, but despite this, both awareness and knowledge of cholesterol is low – even many health-conscious people, like Davina, mistakenly believe they aren’t at risk.

With no visible symptoms, it’s no wonder the topic is not getting the urgent attention it deserves. Despite being renowned for her dedication to health and fitness, Davina McCall has revealed how she struggled for years with high cholesterol, having first discovered her cholesterol levels were at high level when she was just 28.

Davina explains her experience:

“When I first received the results from my blood test that said I had high cholesterol, I just looked at my GP and asked if it was mistake! At the time I considered myself to be a healthy 28 year-old and it never even crossed my mind that I would be at risk of something like this, especially as I always associated high cholesterol with something you only get when you’re old – definitely not something you develop in your 20s!

Reflecting on her lifestyle and dietary habits at the time, Davina admitted that cheese and processed meats were a regular feature of her weekly diet, along with beef and full fat milk, while exercise was far less of a focus for her then than it is now.

She also discovered family links to high cholesterol, learning for the first time that her father and grandmother both had high cholesterol.

Alongside Davina McCall, the campaign features four other people who have struggled with high cholesterol, despite not fitting the public stereotype of ‘someone with high cholesterol’.

From yoga fanatic Furrah, 52, to a 24-year-old footballer Joe, as well as Jill, 50 and Kunal, 33, all with active lifestyles, the campaign reveals how high cholesterol really can affect anyone.

For Jill and Furrah, cholesterol is also a family affair: both have parents who suffer from high cholesterol, demostrating the importance of checking your family history in health matters.

Davina reflects:

“Making those small changes really is such an important and relatively easy way to make a big difference in reducing your cholesterol levels.

From gaining a better understanding of the fat content of certain meats and viewing them more as a treat than a staple, to switching to semi-skimmed milk or lower fat spreads and oils – all these things contribute to lowering cholesterol and improving your overall health.”

Be mindful of daily choices: they all affect your cholesterol levels!

Sarah Franciosi, Benecol Science Communication and Nutrition Manager advices:

“Although high cholesterol can be hereditary, it’s often the result of lifestyle choices, which mean that it is something we can – and should – do something about.”

“Taking some simple preventative steps – such as swapping butter for plant-based spreads and including more oily fish in your diet instead of meat – can minimise the risk of high cholesterol.”

“Although we hope that this campaign encourages the public to take action when it comes to their cholesterol, we also want to reassure them that it’s not necessarily about making a huge lifestyle change but small, achievable switches that can make a big difference.

Read more on cholesterol and how you can manage your own levels:

What is cholesterol?

Top tips for managing your cholesterol

If you’re worried about your cholesterol level, you can get a test from your local GP or Pharmacy.

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You might already be doing some of the things that help reduce cholesterol, like exercise or healthy eating.

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