The word “Cholesterol” frequently causes anxiety and fear among those who are worried about their health, specially when they grow older. It is important to realize that not all cholesterol is created equal, even if it is true that excessive cholesterol levels can cause health problems, specially causes heart diseases. In this article, we will go deep into the world of cholesterol, learning about cholesterol, cholesterol levels and how to control cholesterol.
What is Cholesterol ?
Cholesterol is a natural substance made by the body. Most of the Cholesterol in our bloodstream (75%) is produced by the liver, and the remaining 25% comes from the foods we eat. We all know that elevated blood cholesterol levels are not good for your health, but the right levels of cholesterol actually play vital role in maintaining cell membranes and synthesizing hormones. The centers for Disease Control reports that one-third of adults have high cholesterol levels.
High Cholesterol Symptoms:
Normally, often we do not feel any symptom of high cholesterol and you may often found in darkness about your blood cholesterol is too high. Too much cholesterol can build up in your arteries, causing atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. This restrict blood flow through the arteries can lead to serious medical problems such as heart attack or stroke.
The American Heart Association recommends all adults over age 20 should have their cholesterol levels checked every four to six years. Cholesterol screening is done with a blood test that measures three things-
What appears on cholesterol screening:
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
What is LDL Cholesterol (Bad Cholesterol)?
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, is the type that tends to deposit on the walls of the arteries. While blood cells combine with the LDL cholesterol, forming artery narrowing plaque, which restricts blood flow. The optimal level of LDL cholesterol for most people is 100 mg/dL or lower. If you have heart disease, you may need to strive for LDL levels of 70 mg/dL or lower.
What is HDL Cholesterol (Good Cholesterol)?
Not all cholesterol is bad. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it actually works to keep the LDL, or “bad” cholesterol from building up in your arteries. The higher the HDL, the better. HDL levels of 60 mg/dL and higher can help reduce your risk for heart disease. Conversely, HDL levels of 40 mg/dL and lower are considered a high risk factor for developing heart disease.
Read More: Obesity and Heart Disease
Triglycerides and Its Levels:
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. Normal levels of Triglycerides are 150 mg/dL and lower. Levels higher than that can raise your risk for heart disease and metabolic syndrome, which also is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Risk Factors for Higher Triglycerides:
- Alcohol abuse
- Inactivity/Lack of exercise
Cholesterol is Necessary for Body:
A cholesterol test will measure the total cholesterol in your blood, and your total cholesterol levels are made up of a combination of your LDL, HDL AND VLDL levels. A total cholesterol score of 200 mg/dL or lower is considered optimal. Levels above 200 mg/dL are considered high and can mean you are at greater risk for developing hear disease.
How to Calculate Cholesterol Ratio:
When your healthcare professional recommends your blood cholesterol levels to be checked, he or she will interpret and discuss the results such as your cholesterol ratio and total cholesterol numbers (HDL, LDL and VLDL) and what they each mean.
To calculate your cholesterol ratio, divide your total cholesterol number by your HDL cholesterol number. For example, if you have a total cholesterol score of 200 and an HDL score of 40; divide 200 by 40 and this equals a ratio of 5:1. The lower the ratio, the lower your risk of heart disease. Doctors recommend keeping your ratio 5 to 1 or lower. The optimal ratio is 3.5 to 1. While this ratio can be helpful in assessing risk for heart disease, your doctor will take into account your entire cholesterol profile and tell you what treatment is best for you.
Cholesterol in Foods:
Cholesterol in food is not the same as the cholesterol in your blood. For most people, the cholesterol in foods you eat has a minimal effect on your blood cholesterol levels. However, about 30% of people are “responders” whose blood cholesterol levels can spike following a meal high in cholesterol. “Responders” should avoid foods high in saturated fats and trans fats, such as oil, fatty meats, full fat dairy products, egg yolks and many fast foods.
Cholesterol and Family History:
Eating foods high in cholesterol saturated fat is not only cause for high cholesterol levels in some people. For many, genetics are to blame. A genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia can cause high blood cholesterol levels.
High Cholesterol Risk Factors:
There are several risk factors for high cholesterol:
- Diets high in trans fats, saturated fats and cholesterol
- Being overweight or obese.
- Sedentary lifestyle
Other risk factors you can not control include:
- Age (risk increases as we age)
- Gender (women’s risk for high cholesterol increases postmenopausal)
- Family hereditary
Why Cholesterol Matters?
High cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death. High levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) can contribute to plaque build up on the walls of the arteries, narrowing the arteries and restricting blood flow of some of this plaque breaks off and gets stuck in a narrowed artery, it can block the artery and cut off blood supply to the heart or brain, resulting in heart attack or stroke.
How to Control Cholesterol Level:
Eat more fiber:
Diets high in fiber can reduce LDL (bad cholesterol). High fiber diets also may help with weight loss, and being overweight is a contributing risk factor for high cholesterol. Foods high in fiber include fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and beans.
Know your fats:
The American Heart Association recommends that just 25% to 35% of your daily calories come from fats such as those found in fish, nuts and vegetable oils. For healthy people, saturated fats should comprise no more than 7% of your total calories. On a 2000 calorie-a day diet, that is about 140 calories worth of saturated fats. If you need to lower your LDL cholesterol, limit saturated fats to 5% to 6% of calories or about 11 to 13 grams of saturated fats on a 2000 calorie-diet. Reduce trans fat to less than 1% of your total daily calories. This means avoiding fried foods and many junk foods.
Low carbohydrate diets may help improve HDL (good cholesterol) levels. The National Institute of Health conducted a study that found while both low-fat and low-carb dieters lost weight over the two-year study period, low- carb dieters also improved their HDL cholesterol levels. The problem with low-carb diets is that they may be difficult to adhere to. Consult your doctor about the best healthy eating plan to manage your choles
A crucial but frequently misunderstood component of human health is cholesterol. You may maintain healthy cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease by understanding the difference between “good” and “bad” cholesterol and living a healthy lifestyle. Always keep in mind that some factors which are not in your hands can contribute the higher cholesterol levels but there are some steps that help you to keep in control the cholesterol levels. Take care of diet, lifestyle that may help you to confine cholesterol in satisfactory level.
Frequently Asked Questions Answers on Cholesterol Levels and How to Lower Cholesterol:
1. What causes high and low cholesterol?
Ans: High cholesterol levels result from a complex interplay of factors, including genetics, obesity, diet, age and lifestyle. When it comes to high cholesterol, two types play a key role: HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein). Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, is the type that tends to deposit on the walls of the arteries. On the other hand, low level of cholesterol is the result from factors like malnutrition, liver disease or certain medications.
2. What is good LDL level?
Ans: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, is the type that tends to deposit on the walls of the arteries. The optimal level of LDL cholesterol for most people is 100 mg/dL or lower. If you have heart disease, you may need to strive for LDL levels of 70 mg/dL or lower.
3. What is the normal range of HDL and LDL?
Ans: High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it actually works to keep the LDL, or “bad” cholesterol from building up in your arteries. The higher the HDL, the better. HDL levels of 60 mg/dL and higher can help reduce your risk for heart disease. On the other hand, the optimal level of LDL cholesterol for most people is 100 mg/dL or lower. If you have heart disease, you may need to strive for LDL levels of 70 mg/dL or lower.
4. What is a normal HDL range?
Ans: High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it actually works to keep the LDL, or “bad” cholesterol from building up in your arteries. The higher the HDL, the better. HDL levels of 60 mg/dL and higher can help reduce your risk for heart disease.
You May Like To Read More:
- Best Strategies for Weight Loss and Maintenance
- Best Dental Hygiene Practice
- 10 Healthy Habits for Better Lifestyle
- Benefits of Meditation on Stress Management
- 10 Most Common Eye Diseases