Cholesterol is a component that’s essential for the formation of new cell membranes, certain types of hormones and vitamin D. It’s a kind of lipid – waxy, fat-like substance that’s naturally produced by the liver. Unlike many bodily substances, cholesterol doesn’t dissolve in water. It has its own capability to travel across the body through the blood and perform its function.
Cholesterol typically comprises two types of lipoproteins: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). While the former is also known as bad cholesterol, the latter is termed as good cholesterol. LDL, if present in high quantities can lead to many health problems including heart attack and stroke.
LDL Cholesterol or The Bad Cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), as stated above, is otherwise called the “bad cholesterol.” It typically carries cholesterol to the arteries. If LDL levels are too high in the arteries, they develop a thick layer around its walls causing altered blood circulation and increasing the risk of more blood clots. The buildup is further termed as the cholesterol plaque.
According to a recent report published by one of the leading disease control and prevention clinic of the world, nearly one out of every 10 people are diagnosed with high cholesterol problem. The condition, if not treated at the earliest, can turn fatal and further increase one’s chances of loving their lives to the disease.
HDL Cholesterol or The Good Cholesterol
High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or as commonly known as the “good cholesterol,” helps in bringing LDL levels back in their prescribed range so as to avoid any health complications. The lipoprotein prevents the cholesterol plaque buildup in the arteries and assesses in the smooth flow of blood across the body.
Healthy levels of HDL cholesterol significantly lower the risk of developing blood clots and suffering from heart diseases.
Triglycerides – The Third Important Cholesterol Component
Triglycerides are also a kind of lipid. However, they’re quite different from cholesterol components. While the body uses cholesterol to develop new cells and hormones, triglycerides work as its source of energy. These components are typically produced by the body when a person consumes more calories than needed by the body. Excess quantities of calories are converted into triglycerides, which are then stored in the fat cells. An excess of these can increase a person’s risk of developing several problems such as heart diseases, stroke, etc.
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
Most physicians claim high cholesterol as a silent problem, which typically surfaces when significant damage has already been done to the body. It doesn’t showcase any signs of its existence in its early phase and most people realize they have high cholesterol when they’re hit by a corresponding disease such as a heart attack or stroke. This is precisely the reason why physicians recommend routine cholesterol screening, especially after the 30s.
How to lower cholesterol
People with high cholesterol are often recommended a strict lifestyle change to help lower their risk of suffering from many related fatal diseases and conditions. For instance, bringing a change in one’s diet, exercising regime, and other aspects of daily life. People who smoke tobacco products must quit smoking immediately.
Alongside such changes, physicians also prescribe certain medications or related treatments, which further aid in bringing cholesterol levels in range. In some advanced cases, they may recommend a prolonged treatment to ensure cholesterol levels remain in their range and do not cause any severe damage to the body.
Essential Prevention Tips
Below-mentioned is some smart tips for preventing high cholesterol and lowering the odds of suffering from fatal heart-related diseases:
- Keep weight in check: Weight plays an important role in how the human body functions. Maintaining the right weight and exercising properly helps in keeping many problems including high cholesterol at bay.
- Maintaining BMI: A normal BMI is 18 to 25. If a person has anything below or above this range, must consult a physician and/or dietician to seek advice on ways to stay in range.
- Avoid junk food and the ones with trans fats.
- Exercise Moderately: Exercising for about 30 to 45 minutes a day, five days a week is an ideal way to keep the body in shape and away from diseases.
- Quit smoking.
Follow a Low-Cholesterol Diet
- Make meat lean: Red meat is high in saturated fat and cholesterol and hence, removing it from one’s diet is highly commended. Instead, eat lean meat which has very little visible fat.
- Switch to Lower-Fat Cuts: Look for lower-fat cuts of various meats. For instance, in case of lean beef, include London broil, the eye of round, and filet mignon; in case of red meat, go for unprocessed meats than the processed ones like bacon and sausage, which increase the odds of developing diabetes and heart disease.
- Remove poultry Skin: It’s the skin where most of the fat is stored. Remove the skin before consuming poultry meat.
- Seafood is a good Option: Seafood has less fat than other meats. Eating about two servings of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel every week can significantly improve heart health. They’re also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy for the body.
- Limit the intake of saturated fat: Restrict eating saturated fats such as whole-fat dairy products, mayonnaise, and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils such as stick margarine. Such items usually contain high levels of saturated fats and contain trans fats, which can further increase bad cholesterol buildup in the bloodstream.
- Switch to Liquids: Replace butter and shortening with liquid monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil, and flaxseed oil. Studies prove that food prepared in monounsaturated fats can actually lower LDL cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.
- More Fiber: Adding fiber-rich foods to one’s diet is highly recommended. Good sources of fiber-rich foods include grapefruits, apples, cabbage, barley, carrots, beans and other legumes, and oatmeal.
- Plant-based foods are Valuable: Foods which are rich in plant sterols like nuts can effectively help in lowering cholesterol levels. Two servings a day can do the magic. One can also add plant sterols to yogurts, some soft margarines, granola bars, and orange juice to keep cholesterol in check.