Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is present in the cells and blood of the human body. It is used to defend nerves, build cell tissues, produce vitamin D, produce bile acids that help in digesting fats and producing hormones such as estrogen and testosterone which are very important in reproduction.. The liver produces all the cholesterol that is essential for the body. The body gets additional cholesterol from foods such as eggs, meats and dairy products and saturated fats. When there is too much cholesterol in the blood, cholesterol can accumulate on the walls of the arteries and creates plaque. As the amount of cholesterol builds up it can block arteries, this puts pressure on the heart as it needs to pump more forcefully to pump the same amount of blood due to narrowing of the artery walls. This can lead to a heart attack. More than 16 million women in the United States have high cholesterol.
What are the different types of cholesterol?
The different types of cholesterol are:
LDL cholesterol or “Bad” cholesterol: LDL is abbreviated as “low-density lipoproteins” LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol due to its artery-clogging tendency. LDL carries cholesterol into the blood stream and to the tissues where the body can store it. Unfortunately when there are more LDL particles in the blood they start to deposit the cholesterol in the arteries whichcan cause plaque to buildup that can clog arteries. The plaque can ultimately cause arteries to narrow or become blocked totally, causing stroke or heart attack.
HDL or good cholesterol: HDL is abbreviated as “high-density lipoproteins”. Unlike LDL it has more protein content in it so acts as a vacuum sucking up the extra cholesterol in the cells and tissues and takes them to the liver where it is recycled. This is how HDL helps in preventing build-up of cholesterol in the arteries and protect from heart attacks.A low HDL level may symbolize a stroke or heart disease risk. While High fat diet can increase both LDL and HDl, low fat fat diet can decrease both of them as well. So it is crucial to eat the right food to increase HDL (foods such as walnuts can increase HDL)and decrease LDL.
Triglycerides: Triglycerides are a type of fats found in your blood. They are basically three fatty acids attached to a molecule of glycerol. They are the primary source of energy. When a person eats, body transforms the unwanted calories immediately into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in the fat You do not have access to view this node. Afterwards, hormones release triglycerides for energy in between meals. If a person frequently consumes more calories than he burns, especially "easy" calories like carbohydrates and fats, he may have high triglycerides.
What are the desirable cholesterol levels?
Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dL) of blood. A simple blood test is enough to find out the cholesterol level. The desirable cholesterol levels are as listed below:
Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL
The bad cholesterol (LDL) should be less than 100 mg/dL
The good cholesterol (HDL) should be 45 mg/dL or higher
Triglycerides should be Less than 150 mg/dL
What are the causes for high cholesterol?
Some of the factors that can lead to high cholesterol are:
Overweight: Being overweight has been linked with high cholesterol levels.
Heredity: If high level of cholesterol or heart disease runs in the family, then there are greater chances for a person to experience such problems.
Diet: Foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat increases the cholesterol levels and the risk of developing heart disease.
Age: The risk of high cholesterol increases as a person gets older.
High blood pressure or diabetes: These 2 conditions may also increase the cholesterol level.
Smoking: A person who smokes is at a greater risk of having high cholesterol.
Lack of Physical activity: Lack of physically active is a risk factor for heart disease and increase in cholesterol level.
What are the risks involved in high cholesterol?
High cholesterol may lead to:
Coronary heart disease,
If a person have other risk factors such as high blood pressure or diabetes in addition to high cholesterol, the risks increases even more.
What can a person do to lower the cholesterol level?
The American Heart Association recommends that cholesterol intake should be less than 300 milligrams a day, total fat intake should be 30% or less then the total calories, saturated fat should be 10% or less than the total daily calories, and trans fats should be less than 1% of the total calories a person consume.
Maintaining healthy weight and bind physically active is very important to maintain a healthy cholesterol level and to avoid any heart disease.
Diets that include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, legume, and fish are crucial for decreasing high cholesterol level.
Similarly, a diet that is low in saturated and trans fat is also important. Foods that are high in saturated and trans fats should be replaced with unsaturated fats. Liquid vegetable oil or trans fat-free margarine should be used as an alternative for butter, shortening, or stick margarine. Products containing hydrogenated vegetable oils should not be consumed.
Salt should be limited to 2300 mg per day.
Sugars and sweets must be totally eliminated from the diet.
Skinless poultry, lean meats are good.
The good cholesterol (HDL) can be raised by consuming red wine, and niacin (vitamin B3).
Low-fat or skim milk can be used instead of full-fat milk.
Instead of frying foods, boiling, broiling, baking, roasting, poaching, steaming, or sauteing can be done.
Soy products, avocados, almonds, peanuts, garlic, onions, and chili peppers have cholesterol lowering benefits.
Smoking or consuming alcohol should be eliminated for lowering or maintaining high cholesterol levels.
Medications that are prescribed by the doctor for lowering the cholesterol levels should be taken regularly.