What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is fat and is vital for the body. So is the minor component of fatty acids such as triglycerides, among others, both for the structure of cell membranes, which are the outer shells of our body cells, important and for the release of certain hormones, including sex hormones, bile acids and vitamins, such as vitamin D. In order to remain healthy one should get an eye on cholesterol levels.
The Body Largely Supplies Itself With Cholesterol
The body produces its own necessary portion of cholesterol in the liver. A healthy body tries to keep cholesterol levels in balance. If too little cholesterol is ingested through food, more of it is produced in the liver.
However, if the cholesterol intake is too high, the liver reduces cholesterol production. Overall, the body produces around 80 percent of the cholesterol itself and only the smaller part of cholesterol is supplied by food.
HDL and LDL: Good And Bad Cholesterol
LDL cholesterol – Low-Density Lipoprotein
HDL cholesterol – High-Density Lipoprotein
The LDL cholesterol brings the fat accompanying substance to the body cells. The excess cholesterol continues to swim in the blood and settles on the walls of the vessels.
In the long term, this causes atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the blood vessels. The risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks or strokes also increases.
That is why the LDL is also called bad cholesterol. The LDL level in the blood makes up about two-thirds of the total cholesterol.
One of the tasks of good cholesterol HDL is to take up the excess LDL cholesterol and to send it to the liver so that it can be broken down and excreted in the stool. The balance between the two types of cholesterol is important for health.
How High Can The Cholesterol Level Be?
The total cholesterol value can provide the first clue. A normal value in healthy people is 200 to 220 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dl). If it lies above it, it is generally considered too high.
A more detailed examination should be carried out by the doctor that can precisely determine the LDL and HDL cholesterol values. Basically, the lower the LDL level, the lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
What Increases Cholesterol?
The healthy cholesterol level varies with the individual. When evaluating cholesterol levels, many factors such as age, gender, previous illnesses and family history are decisive. The LDL value is the critical variable and if it increases, you should act quickly because the LDL can be dangerous for the body.
The total cholesterol for people between the ages of 35 and 65 should not exceed 240 mg dl and the LDL 160 mg/dl. The good HDL should average 40 mg/dl.
People who have already suffered a stroke, including diabetic patients, have a very high risk with variation in cholesterol levels. While the value for a person without risk maybe 135, the LDL value of the very high-risk group should be 70. Hypertension is also considered high risk.
High Cholesterol May Lead To Cardiovascular Disease
If the total cholesterol level is too high, hardening of the arteries can occur. Circulatory disorders in the blood vessels can cause cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks or strokes. Even sudden cardiac death is possible.
Foods That Lower Cholesterol Levels
A balanced diet and exercise can lower the high cholesterol level. Eat more vegetable fat and less animal fats. Vegetable fats through fresh vegetables, fish, and olive oil. Because animal fat contains saturated fatty acids that cause the LDL value to rise and the HDL value to go down, while unsaturated fatty acids, like vegetable fats, do exactly the opposite. Exercise or consistent workout also stimulates the metabolism and reduce the risk.
Low Cholesterol Is Also Dangerous
Cholesterol levels that are too low can also be harmful to health because it increases the risk of depression. Too low values can result from an overactive thyroid, severe liver damage or malnutrition.
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Regular Check-Up To Measure Cholesterol Levels
Everyone should have their cholesterol level measured by a doctor. Taking into account the various risk factors, the doctor decides whether the value represents a health hazard and whether a change in diet or even treatment with medication is necessary.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats lower LDL cholesterol when used instead of saturated fats. However, the options for influencing cholesterol levels through a changed diet are limited.
If you have a significantly higher LDL value, you will not be able to reduce it sufficiently just by changing your diet. With a healthy Mediterranean diet, however, the good HDL can be improved in its function.
In this way, the build-up of deposits in the vessels (plaques) can be slowed down and the regression of plaques can be promoted.