We can bind cholesterol to fatty foods, but most of waxy substance is produced by our own bodies. The liver produces 75% of cholesterol that circulates in our blood. Another 25 percent is for food. At normal levels, cholesterol plays an important role in helping cells do their job. But cholesterol levels are dangerous for more than 100 million people.
High cholesterol symptoms
High cholesterol does not cause any symptoms. But it causes damage deep in body. Over time, too much cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in arteries. A condition known as atherosclerosis narrows space available for blood flow and can cause heart disease. The good news is that high cholesterol is easy to spot and there are many ways to lower it.
People over age of 20 should have their cholesterol levels checked at least every four to six years. This is a simple blood test called a fasting lipid profile. It measures various forms of cholesterol circulating in your blood nine to twelve hours after you fast. The results show level of "bad" cholesterol, "good" cholesterol and triglycerides.
Cholesterol recommendations have changed over time. The most important factor is measured not by a single number, but by overall risk of heart attack and/or stroke.
Most of cholesterol in your blood is found in proteins called low-density lipoproteins, or LDL. It is known as bad cholesterol because it binds to other substances and clogs arteries. Diets high in saturated and trans fats tend to increase LDL cholesterol levels. For most people, an LDL value below 100 is healthy, but people with heart disease may need to take medication to lower their LDL levels.
Up to a third of cholesterol in blood is high-density lipoprotein, or high-density lipoprotein (HDL). It is called good cholesterol because it helps remove bad cholesterol and prevents it from building up in arteries. The higher HDL cholesterol level, better results. Deficiency people are more likely to develop heart disease. Consuming healthy fats, such as olive oil, can help increase your HDL cholesterol levels.
The body converts excess calories, sugar and alcohol into triglycerides, a type of fat that is carried in blood and stored in fat cells throughout body. Overweight, sedentary, heavy smokers or heavy drinkers tend to have high triglyceride levels, as do those on a high carbohydrate diet. With a triglyceride score of 150 or higher, you are at risk of developing metabolic syndrome associated with heart disease and diabetes.
Total cholesterol measures combination of LDL, HDL and VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) in blood. VLDL are precursors of LDL, bad cholesterol. Total cholesterol levels should be monitored along with other heart attack risk factors.
Cholesterol in food
Foods high in cholesterol such as eggs, shrimp and lobster are no longer banned. Research has shown that for most of us, cholesterol we eat has very little effect on our blood cholesterol levels. Several people were "testers" whose blood levels rose after eating eggs. But for most people, saturated and trans fats are a big concern. The daily cholesterol requirement is 300 mg for healthy people and 200 mg for high-risk groups. One egg contains 186 mg of cholesterol.
Cholesterol and family history
Cholesterol comes from two sources: body and food, and either can lead to high cholesterol levels. Some people inherit genes that cause excess cholesterol production. For others, diet is to blame. Saturated fats and cholesterol are found in animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy products. In many cases, high cholesterol is due to a combination of diet and genetics.Several factors can make you more likely to develop high cholesterol:
Cholesterol and children
There is evidence that cholesterol can clog arteries during childhood, leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease later in life. The Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents with high cholesterol take steps to lower their cholesterol levels. Ideally, total cholesterol should be below 170 for people aged 2 to 19.Why is high cholesterol important?
High cholesterol is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction and stroke. It also appears to increase risk of Alzheimer's disease. As we saw earlier, high cholesterol levels can lead to plaque buildup that narrows arteries. This is dangerous because it can restrict blood flow. If blood supply to heart or part of brain is completely cut off, result is a heart attack or stroke.Preventing High Cholesterol: Eat More Fiber
Changing your diet is an effective way to fight high cholesterol. If you've ever wondered why some grains claim to be good for heart, it's fiber. Soluble fiber, found in many foods, helps lower LDL (LDL), bad cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber are whole grain breads and cereals, oatmeal, fruits, dried fruits, vegetables, and legumes such as beans.
High Cholesterol Prevention: Understanding Fat
Aim for no more than 35% of your daily calories from fat. But not all fats are same. Saturated fats from animal products and tropical oils increase LDL cholesterol levels. Trans fats have dual "side effect" of raising bad cholesterol and lowering good cholesterol. These two bad fats are found in many baked goods, fried foods (doughnuts, crisps, chips), margarine sticks, and crackers. When combined with other healthy dietary changes, unsaturated fats can lower LDL levels. They are found in avocado, olive and peanut oils.
Preventing High Cholesterol: Protein
Meat and whole milk are high in protein, but they are also major sources of cholesterol. You can lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels by switching to soy protein (like tofu) in some foods. Fish is another great option. Some varieties, such as salmon, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can raise cholesterol levels. The Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week.
Preventing High Cholesterol: A Low-Carb Diet
Evidence is emerging that low-carbohydrate diets may be more effective than low-fat diets in lowering cholesterol levels. People who followed low-carb plan had significantly higher HDL (high cholesterol) levels than those who followed low-fat plan in two-year study.
Preventing High Cholesterol: Weight Loss
If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about starting a weight loss program. Losing weight can help you lower your triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol. Losing a few pounds can also improve cholesterol levels - every 6 pounds of cholesterol increases by 1 percent.
High Cholesterol Prevention: Quit Smoking
Quitting smoking is hard, but there is another reason to try. When you stop smoking, your good cholesterol can increase by 10%. You may be more successful if you combine several smoking cessation strategies. The benefits of quitting smoking are greater than you can imagine.
Preventing High Cholesterol: Exercise
If you are in good health but have a sedentary lifestyle, starting aerobic exercise in first two months can raise your cholesterol by 5%. Regular exercise can also lower bad cholesterol levels. Choose an activity that raises your heart rate, such as running, swimming, or brisk walking, and do it for at least 30 minutes most days of week. It doesn't have to be 30 minutes in a row, two 15 minute walks are just as effective.medicine
If your family has high cholesterol levels, diet and exercise may not be enough to achieve desired results. In this case, medications can increase cholesterol levels. Statins are usually drugs of first choice. They block production of cholesterol in liver. Other options include cholesterol absorption inhibitors and bile acid resins. Your doctor may recommend a combination of these drugs.finally
It takes years for high cholesterol levels to clog arteries with plaque. But there is evidence that atherosclerosis can be reversed, at least to some extent. Several studies have shown that a low-fat vegetarian diet, stress management, and moderate exercise can reduce buildup in coronary arteries. Other studies also support idea that drastically lowering cholesterol levels can help open clogged arteries.