Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

One of the most important components that is usually perceived to be a danger to our body is cholesterol. Simplifying the hyped-up concept of cholesterol, we list down the cholesterol basics as a guide, for you to understand this ambiguity and ways to control high cholesterol.

Cholesterol Basics

Let us understand some of the cholesterol basics with better understanding of various types of cholesterol.

Basically, a wax like substance, cholesterol is found in the body tissues. One of the most important aspects of heart health, cholesterol is required by the body to produce certain hormones, and aid the body in digestion of food. It is the natural process of the body to produce cholesterol, so even though if you don’t consume cholesterol, you will not be lacking at it. The most important part of cholesterol basics is the types of cholesterol. Total cholesterol of the body is divided into three components: HDL, LDL and triglycerides.

HDL Cholesterol - High density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol is the good cholesterol. Denser than the other parts of cholesterol, the basic purpose of this cholesterol is to carry the cholesterol from the other parts of the body back to the liver, where it can be broken down and exited from the body. This is the reason that it is called the good cholesterol because it helps get the cholesterol out of the blood stream. Therefore, it is best if you have high HDL cholesterol in the blood.

LDL Cholesterol – Low density lipoprotein or LDL is the main culprit, which tarnishes the name of cholesterol. It is due to an excess of this cholesterol that the body is harmed in multiple ways. This component of cholesterol carries cholesterol from the heart to the other cells in the body. If there is an excess of the LDL cholesterol, then it will built up in the blood. This build up can further lead to blockages in arteries making them hard and narrow, restricting the blood flow. Since our body has the tendency to make enough cholesterol it requires, whatever extra we have, we consume it through our food, and typically the cholesterol problems arise because of an excess of this cholesterol. Also, known as bad cholesterol in the section of cholesterol basics, it is ideal to have low levels of LDL cholesterol.

Triglycerides - The final components of cholesterol, the triglycerides are another name for the fat in the blood. Any calories which go unburnt in the bloodstream are then turned into triglycerides. This is among one of the major sources of energy stored for contingency use. Like cholesterol, this component is also made by the body and come from external sources like the food we consume too. If the levels of this cholesterol component are above the normal ranges, it increases the risk of cardiovascular problems like a heart disease or a stroke. Therefore, when considering cholesterol basics and evaluating overall heart health, triglycerides are important.

Ways to Control High Cholesterol

Ways to Control High Cholesterol

One of the other important part of cholesterol basics is the normal range of each type of cholesterol. Technology has now enabled us to get the cholesterol numbers evaluated through a simple blood test. Especially with chronic diseases like diabetes, cholesterol needs to be checked regularly.

The optimal cholesterol ranges are given below:

  • Total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dl
  • HDL cholesterol: higher than 40 mg/dl for men and higher than 50 mg/dl is considered good for women.
  • LDL cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dl
  • Triglycerides: less than 150 mg/dl

Along with these important cholesterol basics, it is also necessary to know about when to get your cholesterol checked? Ideally, it is believed that cholesterol levels start rising after the age of 20 and therefore it is recommended that you get your blood cholesterol levels checked every five years after the age of 20. Depending upon the history of the family and the health of an individual, the timeline may be changed by the doctor.

The next and the most important when understanding cholesterol basics is the way in which cholesterol can be lowered or maintained at normal levels. Some simple lifestyle changes can considerably lower your risk of cardiovascular problems like:

Dietary Changes - Prefer foods with high fiber content and nutritional value like oatmeal, walnuts, tofu, salmon, and sardines and stay away from simple sugars and fats.

Quit Smoking - Not only is it good for your lungs to stop smoking, but also exceptionally healthy for your cholesterol levels. Once you quit smoking the HDL levels rise.

Exercise - Nothing works better on cholesterol than simple exercise. Get into shape, get running, get jogging, do anything to stay active, but make sure that you work it out through exercise.

Medical Treatment – Once you are aware of the cholesterol basics, you can keep a check on your health with proper medical consultation. It is best to seek medical advice to work towards lowering your cholesterol with appropriate medicines, diet and exercise.

These are just an informative part of cholesterol basics. For some, the risk of cholesterol problems and heart disorders is higher than others. Regular monitoring with blood tests to detect lipid levels and medical consultation can help to a great extent.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 31, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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