Cholesterol: what its levels mean and what solutions are there to improve it

By | April 30, 2023

can be connected to cholesterol with fatty foods, but most of the waxy substance is produced by the body. The liver produces 75% of the cholesterol that circulates in the blood. The other 25% comes from food.

At normal levels, cholesterol plays a very important role in helping cells do their job. But cholesterol levels are dangerously high in almost 94 million Americans.

symptoms of high cholesterol

High cholesterol does not cause any symptoms. But it causes damage deep within the body. Over time, excess cholesterol can cause plaque buildup inside the arteries.

known as atherosclerosis, this condition limits the space available for blood to flow and can cause heart disease. The good news is that high cholesterol is easy to spot, and there are many ways to lower it.

cholesterol control

For seniors 20 years cholesterol levels should be checked at least once every four to six years. This is done with a simple blood test known as a fasting lipid profile.

It measures the different forms of cholesterol that circulate in the blood after you have avoided eating for 9 to 12 hours. The results show the levels of “bad” cholesterol, “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Cholesterol guidelines have changed over time. The most important factor is not necessarily measured by a number, but by the overall risk of heart disease and/or stroke.

“bad” cholesterol

Most of the cholesterol in the blood is carried by proteins called low-density lipoproteins or LDL. This is known as bad cholesterol because it combines with other substances to clog arteries.

A diet high in saturated fat and Trans fat It tends to raise LDL cholesterol levels. For most people, an LDL score below 100 is healthy, but people with heart disease may need to take medication to lower their LDL.

good cholesterol

Up to a third of the cholesterol in the blood is carried by high-density lipoproteins, or HDL. This is called good cholesterol because it helps remove bad cholesterol, preventing it from building up inside the arteries.

The higher the HDL cholesterol level, the better. Otherwise, they are more likely to develop heart disease. Eating healthy fats, such as olive oil, can help raise HDL cholesterol.


The body converts excess calories, sugar, and alcohol into triglycerides, a type of fat that is carried in the blood and stored in fat cells throughout the body. People who are overweight, inactive, smoke, or drink heavily tend to have high triglycerides, as do those who eat a very high-carbohydrate diet.

A triglyceride score of 150 or higher puts you at risk for metabolic syndrome, which is linked to heart disease and diabetes.

Total cholesterol

Total cholesterol measures the combination of LDL, HDL, and VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein) in the bloodstream.

HE VLDL it is a precursor of LDL, the bad cholesterol. Your total cholesterol level should be considered along with other heart attack risk factors.

cholesterol in food

Cholesterol-rich foods like eggs, shrimp, and lobster are no longer completely off limits. Research shows that the cholesterol we eat has only a small effect on blood cholesterol levels for most people.

Some people are “responders,” meaning their blood levels rise after eating eggs. But for most, saturated fat and trans fat are the biggest concerns. The daily limits for cholesterol are 300 mg for healthy people and 200 mg for people at higher risk. An egg has 186 mg of cholesterol.

Cholesterol and family history

Cholesterol comes from two sources, the body and food, and either can contribute to high cholesterol. Some people inherit genes that make them make too much cholesterol. For others, diet is the main culprit.

Saturated fat and cholesterol are found in foods of animal origin, including meatof eggs and of dairy products made with milk. In many cases, high cholesterol comes from a combination of diet and genetics.

What increases the risk?

Several factors can increase the likelihood of developing high cholesterol: a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol, a family history of high cholesterol, the obesity and the age.

Cholesterol and Gender

Until menopause, women typically have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. They also have higher levels of HDL cholesterol, the good kind. One reason is the estrogen: The female sex hormone increases the level of HDL cholesterol.

Estrogen production peaks during the childbearing years and falls during menopause. After age 55, a woman’s risk of developing high cholesterol begins to increase.

Cholesterol and children

There is evidence that cholesterol can begin to clog arteries during childhood, leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease later in adulthood.

HE American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents with high cholesterol take steps to lower it. Ideally, total cholesterol should be below 170 in people ages 2 to 19.

Why is high cholesterol important?

High cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attacks and cerebrovascular accidents. It also seems to increase the risk of your disease. alzheimer. As we saw earlier, high cholesterol leads to the buildup of plaque that narrows the arteries.

This is dangerous because it can restrict blood flow. If the blood supply to part of the heart or brain is completely cut off, the result is a heart attack or stroke.

Cholesterol: consume more fiber

Diet changes offer a powerful way to combat high cholesterol. Some grains are believed to be heart-healthy. These are plant fibers.

Soluble fiber found in many foods helps lower LDL, the bad cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include whole grain breads and cereals, oatmeal, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and legumes such as beans.

cholesterol levels

No more than 35% of daily calories should come from fat. But not all fats are the same. Saturated fats (from animal products and tropical oils) raise LDL cholesterol. Trans fats create double trouble, as they raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.

These two bad fats are found in many baked goods, fried foods (donuts, chips, French fries), margarine, and cookies. Unsaturated fat can lower LDL when combined with other healthy dietary changes. They are found in avocado, olive oil, and peanut oil.

“Smart” protein

Meat and whole milk provide plenty of protein, but they are also important sources of cholesterol. You may be able to lower your LDL cholesterol by switching to soy protein, such as tofu, for some meals.

Fish is another great option. Some varieties, such as salmon, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve cholesterol levels. HE American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week.

low carb diet

There is increasing evidence that low-carb diets may be better than low-fat diets for improving cholesterol levels.

In a two-year study funded by the US National Institutes of Healthpeople who followed a low-carb diet had significantly better levels of HDL (good cholesterol) than those who followed a low-fat diet.

weight reduction

For people who are overweight, it is recommended to work with a doctor to start a weight loss program. Losing weight can help lower triglyceride, LDL, and total cholesterol levels. Losing even a few pounds can also increase your good cholesterol levels (it tends to increase by one point for every 6 pounds lost).

not to smoke

Quitting smoking is hard, but here’s another reason to try even harder. By quitting smoking, good cholesterol is likely to improve by up to 10%.


Starting an aerobic exercise program could increase good cholesterol by 5% in the first two months. Regular exercise also lowers bad cholesterol.

Choose an activity that increases your heart rate, such as running, swim he walking fast for at least 30 minutes most days of the week are beneficial. It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes straight. Two 15-minute walks work just as well.

Treatment: Medications

If there is a family history of high cholesterol, diet and exercise may not be enough. In this case, medication can give an additional boost to cholesterol levels.

Statins are usually the first choice. They block the production of cholesterol in the liver. Other options include cholesterol absorption inhibitors and bile acid resins. The doctor may recommend a combination of these drugs.

Treatment: Supplements

Certain dietary supplements can help improve cholesterol levels. These include plant sterols, barley and oats, fiber, and green tea.

How low should the prices be?

Many people can lower their cholesterol levels through a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. But how much is this low enough? Recent guidelines do not have a target number.

If you have prediabetes, you are at higher risk of developing heart disease and then you will probably be given a cholesterol-lowering drug called a statin.

Can the damage be repaired?

High cholesterol takes years to clog arteries with plaque. But there is evidence that atherosclerosis can be reversed, at least to some degree.

HE dean ornishMD, has published several studies showing that a low-fat vegetarian diet, stress management, and moderate exercise can remove buildup within the coronary arteries.

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