Cholesterol-Know It, To Control It!
Cholesterol is both a friend and an enemy for you.When within the limit it is an essential substance for body's functioning, but when it crosses normal limit,it becomes a risk to the heart.It is found in every cell.It is waxy and fat like in appearance.It is oil based so does not mix with blood(which is water based),so it is carried around the body in the blood by lipoproteins.Cholesterol reaches to the cells by a transport system, where blood circulation is a road system and protein is a vehicle.This combination of a passenger(cholesterol) and vehicle(protein) is called lipoprotein.Lipoproteins are of two types(1) low density lipoproteins,LDL:It carries cholesterol from your liver to the cells that need it.If there is too much cholesterol for the cell to use,it can build up in the artery walls leading to narrowing of the lumen(atherosclerosis),and(2)high density lipoproteins,HDL:It carries cholesterol away from the cell and back to the liver, where it is either broken down and passed out of the body as a waste product.
Functions of Cholesterol
-helps in building structure of cell walls.
-make up digestive bile acid.
-allow body to produce vitamin D.
-Helps in making certain hormones
Normal Level of Cholesterol in Blood::
Total cholesterol should be under 150mg/100ml(or 4 mmol/litre).LDL should be under 100mg/100ml(or 2 mmol/litre),but if risk factors are also present, then it is better to keep it under 80mg/100ml.HDL in a male should be more than 40mg/100ml(or 1 mmol/litre), in the female it should be more than 56mg/100ml(or 1.7 mmol/litre).-The ratio between total cholesterol and HDL should be less than 4.The ratio between LDL and HDL should be under 2.5.The triglyceride should be under 1.7 mmol/litre.
Effects of High Cholesterol in Blood::
-Continued high levels of cholesterol circulating in the blood results in building of cholesterol in the artery walls (atherosclerosis) and thus restricting the flow of blood to your heart (causing angina and heart attack), to your brain (causing a brain stroke or TIA) and to the rest of the body.
-High cholesterol level also increases the chance of blood clots developing somewhere.
What Causes High Cholesterol?::
-Hereditary and genetic factors. Certain genetic conditions passed down from parents like familial hypercholesterolaemia, familial combined lipididaemia.
-Unhealthy diet, especially containing saturated fats.
-Sex. Males are more prone to high cholesterol level than females as male hormones decrease HDL (good cholesterol).
-Abnormal cholesterol level may be secondary following diabetes, kidney and liver diseases, polycystic ovary syndrome, underactive thyroid gland, etc.
-Obesity can lead to high LDL (bad cholesterol).
-Smoking decreases HDL.
-Sedentary life with lack of exercise increases LDL and decreases HDL.
-Certain drugs like diuretics increases cholesterol level.
How to Reduce the Level of Cholesterol in Blood?::
Doing regular physical activity can reduce cholesterol level.This includes at least 150 minutes activities a week, i.e. brisk walking or cycling, 30 minutes a day on at least five days a week.This increases the level of HDL, it also lower your blood pressure, helps to maintain healthy weight and reduces the risk of diabetes.Healthy eating can help reduce your cholesterol by over 10%.Generally fat present in food is made up of combination of saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fats.To help improve your cholesterol(1) cut right down on saturated fat and replace them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.(2)Avoid trans fat containing food like biscuits, cakes, fast food, pastries, some margarines and spreads.(trans fats are unsaturated fats which are uncommon in nature but can be created artificially by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil to increase the shelf life of food.) Quit smoking and maintain healthy weight.
Choosing healthier fats
Blood lipid is the name for all the fats in the blood.It includes cholesterol and triglycerides.Triglycerides are the main form of fat in the body.The fat we eat after digestion and breaking down ends in triglycerides.Any extra food (carbohydrates fat or proteins) that is not used for activity right away is also converted into triglycerides.
Unsaturated Fats(good fats)
MONOUNSATURATED FATS found in
POLYUNSATURATED FATS found in
-olive oil and rapseed oil
-corn oil,sunflower oil,soya oil
found in fish oil
-nuts and seeds like walnuts,
-nuts and seeds like almonds,peanuts
pine nuts,sesame seeds
-oily fish such as herring,tuna
Saturated Fats(bad fats)
saturated fats found in
Trans fats found in
-butter,hard cheese,whole milk
-fatty meat,meat products
-coconut oil,palm oil
WHETHER YOU NEED TO TAKE CHOLESTEROL LOWERING MEDICINE DEPENDS NOT JUST ON YOUR CHOLESTEROL LEVEL BUT OTHER RISK FACTORS ALSO, SO LEAVE IT TO YOUR DOCTOR TO DECIDE FOR YOU.