One of the common issues that are found in most people is high cholesterol. And it is a big issue for you if you have high cholesterol as this increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack. That is why you need to control it.
Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance found in your body that travels through your bloodstream. It travels through your body with lipoproteins. These proteins include LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein), considered “bad” cholesterol, and HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) which is “good” cholesterol. Moreover, your body needs cholesterol to perform certain functions which include building cells, making vitamins, and other hormones. It is a substance that is not bad overall. But too much cholesterol can cause many health problems, especially the health of your heart. As cholesterol has many potential functions for your body. For controlling your level of control you need to make healthy changes to your diet. Because your diet affects your cholesterol. Also, you need to make certain lifestyle changes as well which help you in maintaining your cholesterol level. Make sure to eat low-level cholesterol foods, which helps you to lower the risk of heart disease. However, in some cases, levels of cholesterol are not maintained by these changes, for that you need to talk to your doctor. They will prescribe medications for that.
Cholesterol and its types
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in your blood. The cholesterol that your body needs come from your liver and the other cholesterol comes from animal foods, such as meat, poultry, and dairy products.
Types of cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – this cholesterol is considered “bad” cholesterol. It can build up in the walls of your arteries causing blockage of them. Also, this makes the arteries narrow and hard. When this cholesterol builds up on the walls of your arteries, it can cause certain issues including narrowing your blood vessels and blood clotting.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – this cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol. Helps in extracting the excess cholesterol back to your liver and this can be eliminated from your body. The high level of HDL protects you against heart stroke and heart attack.
Major functions of cholesterol for your body
Cholesterol helps in performing certain functions in your body. These functions play a vital role that your body requires. And these functions include;
- Building new tissue and repairing damaged tissues
- Producing certain hormones, steroid hormones, including estrogen
- Helps in creating bile in the liver
- Assists in the production of vitamin D
High cholesterol levels lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and kidney issues.
The ideal level of cholesterol
It would help if you were concerned about the level of cholesterol. The ideal level of LDL and HDL are given below:
LDL cholesterol level: 
- Optimal: less than 100 mg/dL
- Near optimal/above optimal: 100 to 129 mg/dL
- Borderline high: 130 to 159 mg/dL
- High: 160 to 189 mg/dL
- Very high: greater than 190 mg/dL
HDL cholesterol level:
- Low: less than 40 mg/dL
- High: greater than or equal to 60 mg/dL
Causes of high cholesterol
The cholesterol level can be increased by different factors and these factors include:
- Poor diet – too much consumption of saturated fats leads to an increase in the level of cholesterol. These saturated fats are found in fatty meats and full-fat dairy products.
- Obesity – a greater body mass index (BMI) of about 30 or more than that also causes high cholesterol.
- Lack of exercise – your body’s HDL, the “good” cholesterol can be increased by exercise. Lack of it leads to high cholesterol.
- Smoking – smoking may lower your HDL level, leading to increasing high cholesterol.
- Alcohol – too much drinking of alcohol can increase your cholesterol level.
- Age – high cholesterol can be more common in people over 40 because as you get older your liver is unable to remove LDL cholesterol.
Effects of high cholesterol
High cholesterol increases the deposition of fat on the walls of your arteries. These deposits can reduce your blood flow through your arteries, which can lead to some heart problems that include:
- Chest pain – if your arteries are affected which supply blood to your heart due to the fat deposition, then you might face chest pain.
- Heart attack – when blood clotting occurs due to fat deposition it leads to the blockage of blood flow to your heart. Then, you will have a heart attack.
- Stroke – when a blood clot blocks your blood flow to the parts of your brain, a stroke occurs.
Certain foods may lower your cholesterol
One of the leading causes of death is due to heart disease. And high cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart disease. Your diet plays a crucial role in how healthy your cholesterol levels are. As your liver produces enough cholesterol to support your body processes. So, you don’t need to get it from food. The cholesterol you gain from your diet is extra and unnecessary. That is why you need to take foods that help in lowering your cholesterol, which are:
- Omega-3 rich foods (Salmon) – some studies show that omega-3 fatty acids are a great source for your heart health. Because these help in lowering your LDL cholesterol by reducing the deposition of fats in your arteries and this makes your blood pressure go down. Some of the omega-3-rich sources are salmon, tuna, trout, and herring.
- Avocado – avocado contains nutrients that are beneficial for your heart health. These avocados contain monounsaturated fats, which are responsible for reducing the level of LDL cholesterol which leads to a lower risk of heart disease. You can eat avocados in sandwiches or salads.
- Nuts (especially almonds and walnuts) – nuts are a rich source of protein, fiber, and healthy unsaturated fats. The presence of protein in them may reduce your blood pressure, which makes your heart healthy.
- Fruits (Berries) – fruits are rich in fiber and antioxidants, including a banana, an apple, an orange, etc. all of them contain about 3 grams of fiber in them. But blueberries have 4 grams of fiber per cup, therefore eating berries can help you to increase HDL and lowers LDL cholesterol.
- Dark chocolate – cocoa is rich in antioxidants which help your cholesterol level. Try to eat dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate. Also, try to avoid overconsumption because these contain added sugars as well which is not good for your health.
- Vegetables (green leafy such as spinach) – vegetables contain fiber and are rich in antioxidants that reduce your high cholesterol. Also, it gives you a range of plant compounds that are beneficial to protect your heart from heart diseases.
- Tea (green tea) – green tea contains an antioxidant known as catechins, which can be beneficial to your health. And the consumption of green tea reduces the bad cholesterol level without affecting good cholesterol. This makes your cholesterol level to be balanced.
- Oils (extra virgin olive oil) – extra virgin olive oil is used for cooking purposes. It contains monounsaturated fat instead of the saturated fats that are found in butter. Therefore, you need to take this oil instead of butter. Due to the presence of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, they can be beneficial to your overall health.
- Garlic – garlic can be used in various dishes, which is why you can take it easy. Garlic can also help you to reduce your blood pressure which is one of the causes of high cholesterol. That is why you can take it to lower your cholesterol.
- Soy foods – soybeans and soy products like tofu, soy milk, etc. are rich in protein which helps in reducing your “bad” cholesterol and increasing the “good” cholesterol. This will make your heart in a good state.
- Whole-Grain bread and cereals – are a rich source of fiber which makes your cholesterol level in a good state. Try to eat whole-grain bread instead of white bread to lower your cholesterol. You need to take meals rich in fiber for breakfast because it is the best time of consuming.
Some changes in your lifestyle also help in preventing cholesterol, these include:
- Physical activity – when you exercise you can lose weight which helps you to increase your HDL cholesterol. The physical activities you can do include; biking, jogging, swimming, dancing, etc.
- Consume more fiber – try to eat more fiber in your diets, such as whole grains instead of white bread and pasta.
- Limit foods rich in cholesterol – try to avoid foods rich in high-saturated fats such as cheese, whole milk, and fatty-red meats.
- Quitting smoking – smoking decreases your HDL level which is why it is better to quit it.
- Lose weight – carrying a few extra pounds increases your cholesterol. So, try to lose weight by taking walks, and using the stairs instead of taking the elevators.
In conclusion, we can say that your body needs cholesterol for performing different functions, you need it according to the necessity of your body. The level of cholesterol is very important because as it increases it may affect your heart health which is not healthy. Therefore, you need to balance the level by taking foods rich in protein, fiber, etc. which increase your HDL “good” cholesterol and lower the LDL “bad” cholesterol. Moreover, you need to take these foods following changes in your lifestyle as well. This makes your cholesterol level healthy.
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