Let's know What is Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a type of fat (lipid), a waxy steroid. Cholesterol is present in the outer layer of each cell of human body and limited amount of cholesterol is needed for normal functioning of Body. However, more than required amount of cholesterol that is high cholesterol level in blood can increase risk of developing cardio vascular diseases (heart diseases).
In human body cholesterol is produced mainly in liver, it is also found in certain foods including dairy products, eggs and meat.
Functions of cholesterol
Cholesterol exists on outer layer of body cells, builds and maintains cell membranes.
Controls cell membrane permeability that means it determines which molecules can or cannot pass in to the cell
Needed to synthesize certain hormones such as androgens and estrogens (sex- hormones) and hormones that are released by adrenal glands.
It helps in production of bile and fat digestion.
It converts sunshine to vitamin D.
Essential for the metabolism of fat soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Provide insulation to nerve fibers.
Types of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is carried in blood by protein molecules. The joint of cholesterol- protein is called as Lipoproteins. The lipoproteins are classified as high density, low density based on the amount of attached protein in relation to fat.
Low density lipoproteins (LDL): LDL, also refer as "bad" cholesterol. High amount of it can cause build up of plaque on the walls of arteries leading to narrowing of the arteries that supplies blood to heart. The higher level of LDL in the blood increases the risk of heart disease.
High density lipoproteins (HDL): HDL also called "good" cholesterol.
Experts suggest HDL helps preventing heart diseases and helps to get rid of bad cholesterol. If your levels of HDL are low, your risk of heart disease increases, higher level of HDL is considered good for heart.
Triglycerides: Triglycerides are another type of fat that is carried in the blood by very low density lipoproteins. Excess calories, alcohol, or carbohydrates that we consume but are not used immediately by body tissues are converted in to triglycerides and stored in fat cells, throughout the body. Most fat in our body exists in the form of triglycerides.
What are normal cholesterol levels?
Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dL) of blood in the United States and some other countries. Canada and most European countries measure cholesterol in millimoles (mmol) per liter (L) of blood. Consider these general guidelines when you get your cholesterol test (lipid panel or lipid profile) results back to see if your cholesterol falls in an ideal range. #
U.S. and some other countries
Canada and most of Europe
Below 200 mg/dL
Below 5.2 mmol/L
240 mg/dL and above
Above 6.2 mmol/L
Ref: Mayo clinic
Your LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels are equally important. The high level of cholesterol can cause narrowing to arteries by forming plaque on the wall of arteries. The narrowing of arteries supplying blood to heart can lead to various cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack and ischemia.
Ways to maintain the Cholesterol in normal range
simply by adopting the certain lifestyle changes you can control your cholesterol levels !
Control portions while eating: you can measure the serving with help of our own hand. A healthy serving of meat is not larger than palm, similarly; one serving of fresh fruit is about the size of your fist. And a serving of cooked vegetables, rice, or pasta should fit in your cupped hand-WebMd.
Fruits to control cholesterol level: Eat lots of fruits and vegetables to keep your heart healthy. Antioxidants present in fruits and veggies, help to get rid of bad cholesterol (LDL).
Eat fish to get Omega 3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids help in reducing levels of triglycerides and may also help lower cholesterol, slowing the process of plaque formation in arteries. Fish is rich source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and contains less saturated fat. Do not eat fried fish.
Whole grains in Breakfast: whole grains contains lots of fibers and complex carbohydrates that keeps you feel full for longer time and helps to avoid overeating at lunch. Whole grains also help to get rid of LDL- bad cholesterol. The list of whole grains include, oatmeal, whole grain cereal, brown rice, barley, preparation of whole wheat flour and of course Pop corn. Read more popcorn can protect your heart.
While buying whole grain products make sure to read the ingredients, whole wheat or whole grain should be the first one in list.
Nuts for the snack time: Have a handful of nuts if you feel hungry in between meal times, they are high in monosaturated fat that lowers LDL cholesterol while keeping HDL cholesterol intact, says experts. Remember nuts are high in fat and calories, over eating of it can cause adverse effect also. A handful of nuts without covering of sugar and chocolate are sufficient.
Cooking oil-Unsaturated fats: Use oil that contains more of unsaturated fats such as canola, olive, sunflower oil instead of butter or palm oil that contains saturated fats while cooking; it raises LDL- bad cholesterol.
While eating out always choose broiled, baked, steamed, and grilled foods -- not fried.
Regular physical activity, can greatly help to lower LDL cholesterol level, as well as increase HDL cholesterol level. Experts says, 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week or 20 minutes three times a week for vigorous exercise, like jogging can help to maintain cholesterol level, and appropriate weight also.
Walk for heart: Go for Walk if you cannot manage to do regular 30 minutes of exercise or join gym. Walking is easy, heart healthy exercise. Walking as well as other aerobic exercises lowers risk of heart diseases and helps to lose or maintain healthy weight.
You can also engage yourself in any kind of cardiovascular activity such as gardening, dancing or even using stairs instead of elevator may help.
Managing stress: Chronic stress is detrimental to your heart.
Research studies suggest that in some people stress may directly raise the cholesterol levels. Reduce day to day stress with relaxation exercises, meditation or yoga.
Read more How to Deal with day to day STRESS..
Loss weight: Maintaining optimum health is best way to combat cardiovascular diseases. Obesity increases the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, all these affect the lining of arteries.
Quit smoking: Smoking lowers HDL ("good") cholesterol levels, you can reverse the trend by quitting smoking.
Cholesterol management is lifelong process. Visit regularly to your physician and keep a track of your cholesterol levels. Follow your doctor's instructions and recommendations on diet, exercise, medication to lower and maintain desirable cholesterol level,- Keep your heart beating
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