Cholesterol is a fatty substance present in body cells. Cholesterol is produced by the liver in the body. External sources of cholesterol are meat and dairy products. The body needs some cholesterol for the normal functioning of systems but if it is too high, it may cause various heart-related ailments like stroke, coronary artery diseases.
Different types of cholesterol
1. Total cholesterol – Total amount of cholesterol in the blood. HDL + LDL = Total cholesterol. Normal range is 125-200 mg/dL.
2. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – It is good cholesterol. It removes cholesterol from arteries. People having high HDL levels are at reduced risk of developing heart diseases. The normal range is more than 45 mg/dL.
3. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – This is also known as bad protein. This builds-up plaque in your arteries and increase the risk of heart diseases. The normal range is less than 100 mg/dL.
4. Non-HDL cholesterol – It is Total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol. The normal range is less than 130 mg/dL.
5. Triglycerides – Another form of fat in the blood that increases the risk of heart disease, especially in women. The normal range is below 150 mg/dL.
Factors that affect cholesterol levels (Modifiable factors)
Smoking – It enhances bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol. One should quit smoking to keep diseases at bay.
Diet – Saturated fat is the main culprit for rising cholesterol levels. Limiting the amount of saturated fat could help in lowering cholesterol levels. Foods containing high saturated fats are dairy products, baked items, fried foods, processed foods.
Weight – It is a risk factor for heart diseases. Losing weight can help increase your HDL levels and decrease bad cholesterol.
Physical activity – Inactive lifestyle leads to obesity which further results in increasing LDL levels (bad cholesterol). You should spare at least 30 minutes for physical activity every day.
Non-modifiable factors – Age and sex, hereditary, race
Tips to lower your cholesterol levels
1. Say ‘NO’ to smoke – Quitting smoking will raise HDL levels and protect the heart by reducing LDL levels.
2. Healthy heart eating – Limiting the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat. DASH diet and therapeutic lifestyle diet are needed.
3. Managing stress – Chronic stress can increase your LDL levels and decrease your HDL levels. Thus, we need to manage our stress by living a holistic life.
4. Active lifestyle – We all should do regular exercise. If not exercising, we should indulge in some form of physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day.
5. Controlling weight – If you are overweight, reducing weight will help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Disclaimer: The content on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other health professionals for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.