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If you are reading this, you obviously are concerned regarding your health and the possible effects that cholesterol may very well have. But, what exactly is cholesterol, and what are its functions or effects to the body?
Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance in your blood that is needed by your body to build and repair cells and also to make hormones. Nevertheless, having too much of the wrong kind of cholesterol might lead to medical issues.
Cholesterol is produced by your liver and is found in some foods. There are different kinds of cholesterol, and each is given a name for a particular protein that carries cholesterol in the blood. The crucial are :
Low - Density Lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol, which is considered as "bad" cholesterol.
High - Density Lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL cholesterol, which is considered as "good" cholesterol.
A blood test known as a "lipid profile" is used to determine cholesterol levels. This evaluates triglycerides, a different form of blood fat, together with total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol. For around 10 hours prior to the test, you are normally instructed to fast (not to eat anything) and only allowed to consume water.
Your age, risk factors, and family history all play a role in when and how frequent you should undergo a cholesterol test. The general suggestion is for people over 35 years old to have at least one annual checkup.
High level LDL cholesterol in your body can increase the risk and lead to cardiovascular disease. The high number of LDL cholesterol would cause plaque formation also known as fatty deposits in the artery walls. The plaques will later result in the narrowing and hardening of the arteries over time. This can contribute to :
Angina, which occurs when plaque accumulates in the coronary arteries, the main blood vessels supplying your heart. As a result, the coronary arteries grow narrower and partially obstructed, decreasing the amount of blood and oxygen reaching the heart. Breathing difficulties and chest pain could result from this event.
Heart attack, which if a plaque in a coronary artery bursts and ruptures, a clot might form and obstruct the flow of blood to the heart, depriving it of oxygen.
Stroke, which if the blood arteries supplying the brain narrow or become clogged by plaque, the brain's blood flow may be completely or significantly decreased, leading to a stroke. Having a stroke can also result from a blood clot from another part of the body getting carried through the bloodstream and getting stuck in a brain artery.
Peripheral vascular disease. Typically affects the arteries that supply the legs and feet, leading to intermittent claudication, which is pain experienced when walking. After the circulation is more seriously compromised, discomfort can also be felt while resting.
A high amount of HDL cholesterol is advantageous because it aids in the removal of other types of cholesterol from the circulation and transports them back to the liver, where they are eliminated from the body. You should aim to have 60 mg/dL (1.6 mmol/L) or above of HDL cholesterol.
Pick healthier fats
A healthy diet includes fat, however there are "good" fats and "bad" fats. Trans fats and saturated fats are "bad" fats. Your cholesterol level can be reduced by substituting foods that are high in saturated fat with those that are high in unsaturated fats, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Healthy unsaturated fats are found in :
Nuts such as almonds and walnuts.
Oils made from plants and seeds such olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, soybean oil.
Seeds such as sunflower seeds, chia seeds.
Reduce food with cholesterol
It's okay to consume some cholesterol in your diet, but try not to consume too much. Limit foods that are high in cholesterol, such as butter, cheese, lobster, egg yolks, and organ meats.
Less than 200 mg of cholesterol per day is recommended if you're aiming to decrease your cholesterol.
Plenty of soluble fibers
Soluble fibers have the ability to slow down digestion, thus helping you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Other than that, soluble fiber can also bind to cholesterol and expel it from the body since it is not absorbed in the intestines. A daily intake of merely 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber can reduce cholesterol levels by 5 to 11%.
Fruits and vegetables
Vegetables and fruits have a naturally low fat content. They enrich and diversify your diet. Furthermore, they are your body's finest source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Every day, eat at least 5 cups of fruits and vegetables.
Eat as much fish and other foods high in omega 3 fatty acids as you can. Despite having minimal impact on LDL cholesterol, Omega 3 fatty acids do raise HDL cholesterol. Salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts, and flaxseeds are some examples of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Becoming more physically active
Try to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week.Your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides can be reduced and your HDL cholesterol can be increased with exercises.
Exercise recommendations include brisk walks, cycling, swimming, and playing sports. Partner up and pick an activity you enjoy. You can stay on track by exercising with a friend.
Smoking lowers HDL cholesterol and hastens the development of fatty plaques in the artery walls. Additionally, it increases the risk of blood clotting. These elements raise your chance of having a heart attack and a stroke.
But smokers can again lower their LDL cholesterol and raise their HDL cholesterol by giving up smoking. It may also help protect their arteries. So, one of the finest strategies to enhance the health of your blood vessels and heart is to stop smoking.
Carrying even a few additional pounds can raise cholesterol levels, which elevates your risk of developing heart disease and other serious diseases. Therefore, the first step toward improving our general health is weight loss. LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels would go down and HDL cholesterol levels would go up even with a 5% weight loss.
Limit alcohol intake
Drinking too much alcohol increases the risk of developing significant health issues such high blood pressure, heart failure, and strokes. Alcohol also increases calorie intake, which may result in weight gain. You would have higher LDL and lower HDL levels if you are overweight.
Limit your alcohol consumption to no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 drinks per day if you drink.
Did you know that stress can cause your cholesterol to skyrocket? Calm yourself, and chill. Spend some time on your yoga mat, a good book, or a coffee date. It will be helpful in managing your cholesterol.
Note from DOC2US.
Regarding cholesterol, always remember “Check, Change, and Control” which is :
Check your cholesterol levels.
Change your diet and lifestyle.
Control your cholesterol.
Mastura Ismail, Sri Wahyu Taher, Ainul Shahera Sahar. MyHealth Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia, Heart Disease And Lowering Cholesterol, 2011. http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/heart-disease-and-lowering-cholesterol/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cholesterol. https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/
Simon, Nessa. 8 Foods That Help Lower Cholesterol. AARP. 2012. aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-09-2012/foods-that-help-lower-cholesterol-slideshow.html
Nutrition Society of Malaysia (NSM). http://www.nutriweb.org.my
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