Always heard about cholesterol by doctors and in advertisements but wondered what they actually mean? Don’t worry, we have you covered. Here are the most important things that you need to know about Cholesterol.
What Do You Mean By Cholesterol?
We have heard the cholesterol in a negative light for so long that whenever we hear it, we think it is something bad. Well, the reality is something different. Cholesterol is a waxlike and fatty material that is found in the cells of our body. And our body actually needs cholesterol as they are the substances that are required to produce hormones and synthesize vitamin D along with many other functions.
While our body is fully capable of manufacturing the adequate amount of cholesterol that is needed in our body by our liver, we can also consume it externally. Food products like meat, eggs, and dairy-rich in the fat act as the main source of cholesterol. However, anything in excessive amounts is not good and it goes the same for cholesterol. Dietary items rich in saturated fat and trans fat triggers our liver to produce more cholesterol that is actually needed in our body. High blood cholesterol is one of the major reasons for health diseases in today’s time as most of our diet is full of such food that has a high quantity of harmful fats.
Heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death among people in the world and while many researchers like to contradict, the most common report says that high blood cholesterol directly affects heart conditions. High blood cholesterol can lead to coronary artery diseases, periphery artery diseases, stroke, heart attacks, and more. High blood cholesterol when combined with other problems like diabetes, smoking addiction, high blood pressure, etc. can prove to be lethal.
Types of Cholesterol
Small packages that are made up of fat on the outside and protein on the inside are called lipoproteins and these lipoproteins act as the carrier of cholesterol. Lipoproteins are mainly of two types – HDL (high-density lipoproteins) and LDL (low-density lipoproteins). HDL is considered to be the’ good’ cholesterol because lipoproteins collect the excess fat in the body and take it all the way to the liver where they are broken down and removed from our system.
LDL, on the other hand, are antagonists or the ‘bad’ cholesterol as when their quantity excess to that of HDL, they start forming plaque on the walls of the arteries. These plaques later become a hindrance in the healthy blood flow in the body that causes the majority of the heart diseases.
There is another type of fat that is called triglycerides. These fats are simply fats and the combination of fats and protein. They carry energy and calories that we consume and higher the level of triglyceride, higher the level of LDL.
Who Are More Prone To High Cholesterol?
You might have a very balanced amount of cholesterol in your body but that might not be true for your friend or your partner. Why is that? Why some people are more prone to high cholesterol levels while some are not? Here are the answers.
Heredity is one of the reasons that make some people more prone to high blood cholesterol. Although, it is not a very common factor and is comparatively rare. People can be genetically prone in two of the following ways – heterozygous and homozygous. In heterozygous, the person inherits the abnormal gene from the only parent while in a homozygous situation, the person inherits the abnormal genes from both the parents. If you have high cholesterol problems due to heredity, you must take extra precautions by getting tested from a very early age as such people are more prone to heart diseases.
Smoking is another reason that can affect your cholesterol level. Smoking does not directly affect the cholesterol but it certainly lowers the level of LDL in the body. The moment a person quits smoking, they can witness an impressive increase in their HDL.
Diet is yet again, one of the most important factors affecting high cholesterol levels in the body. As discussed, there are certain foods that are rich in trans fat and saturated fat that affects your health negatively. It is advised to consume more of unsaturated oils like olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, etc.
Testing for Cholesterol
It is advised you start taking tests to evaluate your blood cholesterol levels from your late 20s and early 30s, especially if you have diabetes or family history. For the test, you need to stop eating 9 to 12 hours prior. Total blood cholesterol is the sum of LDL, HDL, and 20% of triglyceride. If your total blood cholesterol level is around 200 mg/dl, it is in the green zone whereas if the level is around 239 mg/dl, you need to be worried. You would want your HDL to be high around 60 mg/dl and LDL to be as low as 130 – 159 mg/dl. You would also want your triglyceride level to be somewhere around 150 mg/dl.
How to Keep Cholesterol in Control
Here are simple methods that can prevent high blood cholesterol effectively. A person needs to switch to a healthy diet that included unsaturated fats. People should also quit smoking (honestly, quitting smoking is the solution to half of the health hazards) and start exercising. Though, if your LDL levels are higher than 70 mg/dl, you might need to start medication.
Cholesterol & Heart Diseases
Cholesterol is not directly related to heart diseases. But, by keeping the LDL levels low, you ensure that you are avoiding plaques on your arteries that can later harm blood circulation. And hindrance in blood circulation can result in heart diseases.
In the end, we can suggest you keep your heart and your lifestyle healthy. As for starters, you can get your check-up done and start maintaining a healthy diet. These small changes are what make a big impact on a person’s life.