However, if blood levels get too high, it becomes a silent danger that puts people at risk of heart attack. Cholesterol is present in all cells of the body and performs important natural functions when it comes to digesting food, producing hormones and generating vitamin D. The body produces it, but the people also consume it in food. It looks like a wax and a grease.
There are two types of cholesterol:
- low density lipoproteins (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol
- high density lipoproteins (HDL), or “good” cholesterol.
Some facts about cholesterol:
Cholesterol is an essential substance that the body produces but that people also consume in food. Risk factors for high cholesterol include family history and modifiable lifestyle choices of diet and exercise. High cholesterol usually causes no symptoms.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is an oil-based substance. It does not mix with blood, which is water-based. It moves through the body in lipoproteins.
Two types of lipoproteins transport cholesterol:
– low-density lipoprotein (LDL): Cholesterol that moves in this way is unhealthy or “bad” cholesterol.
– High density lipoprotein (HDL): The cholesterol present in HDL is called “good” cholesterol.
Cholesterol has four main functions, without which we could not survive.
It is :
- contribute to the structure of cell walls
- constitute digestive bile acids in the intestine
- allow the body to produce vitamin D
- enable the body to make certain hormones
Causes of high cholesterol
High cholesterol is an important risk factor for coronary heart disease and a cause of heart attack. Cholesterol buildup is part of the process of narrowing of the arteries, called atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, plaques form and lead to restriction of blood flow.
Reducing fat intake in the diet helps manage cholesterol levels. In particular, it is helpful to limit foods that contain:
– Cholesterol: It is present in foods of animal origin, meat and cheese.
– Saturated fats: Found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, fried foods and processed foods.
– Trans fats: They are present in some fried and processed foods.
– Excess weight or obesity can also cause an increase in LDL levels in the blood. Genetic factors can contribute to high cholesterol. People with the inherited condition of familial hypercholesterolemia have very high LDL levels.
Other conditions can lead to high cholesterol, including:
- liver or kidney disease
- polycystic ovary syndrome
- pregnancy and other conditions that increase female hormone levels
- an underactive thyroid gland
- drugs that raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol, such as progestins, anabolic steroids, and corticosteroids.
Symptoms of high cholesterol
A person with high cholesterol often has no signs or symptoms, but routine screening and regular blood tests can help detect high levels. A person who doesn’t get tested can have a heart attack without warning because they didn’t know they had high cholesterol. Regular testing can help reduce this risk.
cholesterol in food
11 Foods That Actively Lower Cholesterol Levels:
- barley and whole grains
- eggplant and okra
- vegetable oil
- fruits (mainly apples, grapes, strawberries and citrus fruits)
- soy and soy foods
- fatty fish (especially salmon, tuna and sardines)
- fiber-rich foods.
Adding these foods to a balanced diet can help control cholesterol.
Foods that are bad for cholesterol levels. This is in particular
- Red meat
- high-fat dairy products
- hydrogenated oils
- bakery products
Cholesterol levels and result ranges
In adults, a total cholesterol level below 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered healthy.
- A value between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered the upper limit.
- A level of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.
- The LDL cholesterol level must be below 100 mg/dL.
A level of 100 to 129 mg/dL is acceptable for people without medical conditions, but may be of concern for people with heart disease or risk factors for heart disease.
- 130-159 mg/dL is a high borderline level.
- 160-189 mg/dL is high.
- 190 mg/dL or more is considered very high.
The HDL level must remain high. THE optimal HDL level is 60 mg/dL or more.
A rate less than 40 mg/dL can be a major risk factor for heart disease.
A rate between 41mg/dL and 59mg/dL is considered the lower limit.
Prevention of hypercholesterolemia
People who want to lower their cholesterol levels or keep them at a healthy level can make four major lifestyle decisions.
- eating a heart-healthy diet
- exercise regularly
- avoid smoking
- achieve and maintain a healthy weight
These actions will reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack.