High cholesterol increases the risk of Cardiovascular diseases (Heart attack, stroke) significantly.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty, wax like substance present in human blood. It’s produced naturally in the liver. Every human being no matter of what age or gender, has cholesterol. Human body need it to stay healthy and it is vital for the formation and normal functioning of cell membrane of every cell in our body. Some of this cholesterol comes from the food we eat.
Cholesterol is hydrophobic which means it doesn’t dissolve in water, so it can’t travel through blood by its own. Cholesterol require a travel medium for its transport which are produced by liver.
When cholesterol is carried in your blood by the transport proteins produced by Liver, they’re called lipoproteins.
Types Of Cholesterol
Lipoproteins are of two types: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and High-density lipoprotein (HDL). Apart from these two there is one more form called Triglycerides.
LDL or The Bad Cholesterol
It is called “BAD” because it carries cholesterol to the blood vessels. If your blood contains too much LDL (cholesterol carried by low-density lipoprotein), then there are high chances of cholesterol getting deposited inside the vessels.
HDL or The Good Cholesterol
HDL is sometimes called “GOOD” cholesterol because it helps transport LDL back to liver from where is gets excreted from the body. Having a healthy level of HDL helps bring down the risk of vascular diseases as it prevents cholesterol from being deposited into the inner lining of blood vessels thereby causing narrowing of the vessel lumen.
Apart from LDL and HDL there is one more type of cholesterol called TG’s or Triglycerides. Your body uses triglycerides as a source of energy. When you eat more calories than your daily calorie need, those calories get converted into triglycerides. It stores triglycerides in your fat cells. It also uses lipoproteins to circulate triglycerides through your bloodstream.
Being very overweight, eating a lot of fatty and sugary foods or drinking too much alcohol make you prone to have high triglyceride levels.
Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
It’s a silent disease which typically causes no symptoms. That’s why it’s important to get your cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis. If you are 20 years old or more, discuss with your family physician about planning for a routine cholesterol screening.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
There are two types:
Modifiable Causes (Causes that you can control)
- Binge Eating (specially food rich in saturated fats)
- Physical Inactivity
Non – Modifiable Causes (Causes that you cannot control)
- Older Age
- Familial Hypercholesterolaemia
- Kidney or Liver Disease
- Thyroid Gland Dysfunction
Recommended Cholesterol Levels
|Total cholesterol||HDL cholesterol||LDL cholesterol|
|Acceptable||lower than 170||higher than 45||lower than 110|
|High||200 or higher||n/a||higher than 130|
|Low||n/a||lower than 40||n/a|
Treatment Of High Cholesterol
1. With Medication
When your cholesterol levels are too high, your doctor might prescribe medications to help lower your cholesterol levels.
Statins are the most commonly prescribed medication for high cholesterol. Statins acts by inhibiting liver from producing more cholesterol.
Examples of statins include:
Some other less often prescribed medications for high cholesterol are :
- Bile acid resins, such as colesevelam, colestipol, or cholestyramine.
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors, such as ezetimibe.
2. With Diet and Lifestyle Modification
Dietary and lifestyle modifications are the first and most important changes that your doctor will recommend (if your cholesterol levels are not too high) in order to achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Your doctor may advise you to:
- exercise or brisk morning walk for at least 30-45 mins a day for 5 days a week.
- limit the consumption of foods that are rich in cholesterol, saturated fats, specially trans fats.
- choose lean sources of protein, such as chicken, fish, and legumes.
- increase consumption of high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- baked, steamed, grilled, and roasted foods are always preferable than fried foods.
- avoid fast food and junk food
Examples of foods that are rich in cholesterol, saturated fats, or trans fats:
- processed foods made with cocoa butter, palm oil, or coconut oil
- red meat, organ meats, egg yolks, and high-fat dairy products
- deep fried foods, like potato chips, onion rings, and fried chicken
- certain bakery items, like cookies and muffins
Eating fish like salmon and other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acid also help lowering your LDL levels. Other good sources of Omega 3 are walnuts, almonds, ground flax seeds, and avocados.
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