Have you ever heard from your loved ones that their cholesterol is not in a healthy range? Well, we are in a time where we prioritise our work over health. Our lifestyle is hectic; we have forgotten to take care of ourselves and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But we should remember this famous saying, "health is wealth." Good health can bring happiness and joy.
Never be ignorant about any health problem. Even petite health problems can lead to higher risk. But when it comes to cholesterol, you should know the truth behind it and do some more research about it.
Cholesterol is a pretty common term in our everyday life. But people still wonder, "Is cholesterol good or bad for them?" If you are one of them, you have landed on the right page. Let's start exploring more about cholesterol and its relation to cardiovascular disease!
We heard many things about cholesterol. But what exactly is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is fat made by the liver. It is a yellow, greasy, and fatty substance that remains in the blood. Mainly cholesterol helps control reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. It is vital for the functioning of the defending system of your body and metabolises all the fat-soluble vitamins.
Do you know that your bodies make cholesterol themselves and also manage the production of cholesterol if there is excessive cholesterol in the bloodstream? Your body regulates the production and always tries to make up for what is missing. If the cholesterol level is not sufficient in your blood, you can take cholesterol from food also. Therefore, cholesterol is a critical component of the human body.
What are good cholesterol and bad cholesterol?
Cholesterol is crucial for numerous body functions. It floats in the bloodstream with the help of carriers HDL and LDL. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein, and LDL means low-density lipoprotein. They both carry cholesterol.
High-density lipoprotein HDL is considered good cholesterol, and Low-density lipoprotein LDL is bad cholesterol.
Do you know what good cholesterol does? High-density lipoprotein HDL collects the extra cholesterol from the blood and puts it back in the liver. This excess cholesterol breaks here into bits and is eliminated from your system. If the excess cholesterol remains in the blood, there is a risk of heart disease.
High-density lipoprotein HDL is a rescuer. It safeguards the body against heart disease and stroke. The high number of HDL is considered better for heart health. If HDL levels are below 40, it will be a risk factor for the heart. It elevates the possibility of developing heart disease and stroke.
There are some foods like fatty fish, high fibre fruits, flax seeds, chia seeds, nuts, etc that increase HDL.
Low-density lipoprotein LDL is not good; it sticks on arteries walls. It is called plaque in the arteries. It raises the possibility of developing cardiovascular diseases. What happens when bad cholesterol is more than good cholesterol in the body? Due to the reduced size of arteries, the quantity of blood and oxygen reaching the heart decreases; it induces chest pains and can lead to heart attacks. So it is essential to control the levels of LDL.
Foods like eggplant and okra, vegetable oils, oats, nuts, apples, grapes, etc help to lower LDL.
Why does cholesterol increase?
The cholesterol level in the blood should be in the range of 3.6 to 7.8 millimoles per litre. When this level reaches six millimoles per litre, it is called high cholesterol. But after 7.8 millimoles per litre, the risk of heart attack or stroke increases. Excess of trans fat like fried things, butter, popcorn, junk food, etc., raises cholesterol levels. Various diseases surround the low level of cholesterol in the blood. In this condition, the blood circulation gets disrupted. The heart has to pump more than before to deliver blood to all body parts.
What are the primary causes of heart attacks and strokes?
You would be surprised to learn that cholesterol is not the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes. Its triglycerides act as the leading risk factor for increasing your chance of heart attack or stroke. Triglycerides are a type of fat present in your blood.
Although triglycerides are fat, it has nothing to do with fat intake. Its level usually rises with increased sugar intake; the same goes for cholesterol. In some circumstances, cholesterol will rise by using polyunsaturated oils like safflower oil, grapeseed oil, and flaxseed oil. But the consumption of saturated fat won't raise triglycerides and cholesterol?
When an individual has an elevated triglyceride level and other risk factors like a low HDL level, high LDL, or diabetes, then it's a cause of concern. Hence, triglycerides are the primary risk factor for coronary heart disease, not cholesterol.
A person should avoid sugary drinks, cake, pastries, starchy foods, alcohol, etc. because these foods increase triglycerides. Instead of these, they should add leafy greens, green beans, butternut squash, citrus fruits, berries, low fat or fat-free dairy products, quinoa, barley, brown rice, etc. to their diet. These foods help to control triglycerides levels.
Is cholesterol good or bad for us?
Cholesterol is not a deadly term at all. It is present in each body cell. It is made in the liver, but it can be taken from food when it is less in the body. Surprisingly, cholesterol is both good as well as bad for us. Let’s check it out.
It is absolutely good and a vital substance for the body when it is at a normal level.
It plays numerous vital roles like producing hormones, Vitamin D, and improving digestion
Cholesterol is an integral part of our body, like the brain. Around 5% of the brain's dry weight is made of cholesterol.
The body utilizes cholesterol to make all your significant sex hormones and adrenal hormones.
Cholesterol helps in digestion; without it, you cannot absorb any fat-soluble vitamins.
Each cell in your body is encircled by a layer containing cholesterol, and without that cholesterol layer, no cell in your body could perform its function.
Keeping an eye on cholesterol levels is crucial for us. When its level is inappropriate, it is frightening for your health. So have your blood test and get it checked within every six months. It will help you to maintain sound health.
In normal adults, total cholesterol levels should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
If the level between 200 and 239 mg/dL is deemed borderline high, it is considered high if a reading goes up to 240 mg/dL or above.
LDL cholesterol levels should not be more than 99 mg/dL.
Cholesterol is not bad for us until it is normal; we should stop believing that cholesterol is a villain.
Summing it up
High triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol levels are worrisome. It can raise the possibility of developing heart attacks and strokes. It is essential to check your total cholesterol level regularly. Diet therapy is beneficial for high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol. You have to reduce excess dietary polyunsaturated fats and increase the intake of saturated fats. Diet plays a critical role in keeping you healthy. But don’t forget to consult with a doctor in the first place if you see unusual cholesterol levels.