Cholesterol is the fat produced by our body and is also known as lipids. Cholesterol usually gets a bad rep, but in reality, it is a crucial factor for the cells to function. However, our body produces only 75 percent of the required amount and the rest is drawn from the food we consume which should have balanced amounts of cholesterol. Overproduction of cholesterol causes it to accumulate in the arteries and hence result in major heart diseases. Here, we aim to put an end to various misconceptions associated with cholesterol.

Overview and Facts

Cholesterol has 4 main functions

  1. Helps in vitamin D production.
  2. Helps with structuring the cell walls.
  3. Enables hormone secretion.
  4. Helps in producing digestive bile acids in intestines.

Cholesterol Measure

Cholesterol of a person is the sum total of very low-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein.

  • A normal cholesterol measure should be around 200.
  • A cholesterol measure of more than 200 can cause significant health issues and heart diseases and is considered to be risky.

Causes

1. Food

  1. Avoid cholesterol rich food like egg, red meat, shrimps etc.
  2. Oil-saturated and unsaturated oil.
  3. Consuming fat-rich foods can increase your cholesterol level.

2. Family history

Familial hypercholesterolemia is the condition of genetic inheritance of cholesterol. Even kids are diagnosed with cholesterol due to unhealthy eating habits that they pass on to their offsprings.

3. Obesity

Being overweight or obese can also lead to higher blood LDL levels, and conversely, high cholesterol levels could possibly lead to obesity. Regular exercise and a steady, healthy diet are helpful in the eradication of cholesterol.

4. Age

Men after their 40’s and women after menopause are more likely to accumulate cholesterol. Age is sometimes just a factor. Checking your cholesterol levels every five years is recommended.

Symptoms

There are no specific symptoms that indicate high cholesterol levels but, conditions of obesity and overweight are often telling signs of cholesterol.

  • Can only be determined through blood tests.
  • High cholesterol levels are sometimes ignored and chances of heart attacks or strokes are increased.

Types

LDL-low density lipoprotein

LDL cholesterol is known as the “bad” cholesterol as it produces plaque, which settles in the arteries and blocks them, constricting the blood flow.

HDL-High density lipoprotein

HDL cholesterol is known as the “good” cholesterol as it reduces LDL cholesterol. A good level of HDL cholesterol helps to protect the heart from diseases whereas; low levels of HDL cholesterol increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Check how much cholesterol is good for your health :Know your Cholesterol Levels : Low, Optimal and High

Medication/Treatment Overview

Lipid-lowering therapy

  • The lipid-lowering treatment for a person with high cholesterol depends on their separate cholesterol levels and other health conditions.
  • Diet and exercise are necessary steps towards lipid-lowering therapy. Drastic lowering can sometimes cause other problems. So, keeping a ratio of therapy to exercising is recommended.

Intake of statin drugs:

  • Statin treatment is usually for people with higher risk of heart attacks when cholesterol levels range between 130 mg/dL and 190 mg/dL. Cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins are prescribed based on the individual health condition.
  • Statins are the main elements of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Precautions/Home Care Tips

Natural Treatments

  • Eat healthy: Incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet and, lower consumption of fatty and processed foods.
  • Quit smoking: Cigarette smoking lowers the levels of good cholesterol. It damages the lining of the blood vessels and increases the risk of thickening arteries. At times, second-hand smoke can also lower HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Workouts and exercise: This helps to a great extent as exercising daily burns all unnecessary fats that are deposited in the body.
  • Maintaining weight: BMI-Body mass index, Maintaining your right BMI is important. Conditions of overweight, as well as underweight, affects the body alike.

Diet Recommendations

  1. Consuming Soya foods helps in faster blood pumping.
  2. Include nuts with good cholesterol in your diet.
  3. Oats are the best food for reducing your fat.
  4. Fruits and vegetables rich in high vitamins and proteins help in digestion of excess fat.
  5. Foods containing unsaturated fats can maintain a good cholesterol level.

Research Information:

How Cholesterol bonds with brain proteins and recent advancements made in the treatment of the disease