How to Control Cholesterol & Reduce Cholesterol levels
Cholesterol is lipid (fat) which is produced by the liver and other cells and is important for normal functioning of the body. It is a waxy, fat-like substance that is present in food that come from animals, such as dairy products, eggs and meat.
The cell walls or membranes of the body require cholesterol to produce hormones, bile acids that aid in digestion and vitamin D. While the body does require some cholesterol to function normally, high amounts of cholesterol released may result in health problems such as heart diseases. High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels in the body are some of the leading causes of heart diseases.
Types of Cholesterol
- High Density Lipoprotein (HDL): is the good cholesterol that helps the body in getting rid of the bad cholesterol. The higher the level of HDL, the better.
- Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL): is the bad cholesterol, which causes the build up of plaque in arteries. The level of LDL needs to be low.
- Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL): Contains mostly fat and no protein, and is just as bad as LDL.
- Triglycerides: Type of fat carried by VLDLs. Extra calories, alcohol and sugar in the body are converted into Triglycerides.
When there is a high level of cholesterol present, it leads to the formation of plaque. Plaque is a thick hard deposit that begins to form in the artery walls. Over the years, it hardens the artery walls and narrows it down, restricting the flow of blood and causing atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries). A number of heart diseases are caused due to atherosclerosis.
Due to the narrowing of arteries, not enough oxygen-rich blood reaches the heart. This can cause chest pains called angina. Eventually, if the blood supply is fully cut off, it may lead to the damage or death of a heart muscle resulting in a heart attack.
Once you turn 20, you must get your cholesterol checked once every 5 years. Doctors recommend that your cholesterol level should stay below 200. Cholesterol level of 200-239 is considered borderline, while above 240 is considered high.
You are more likely to have high cholesterol if you have any of these associated factors
These factors include:
- Heredity: High cholesterol levels runs in families
- Age/Gender: Cholesterol levels rise with age. Women tend to have lower cholesterol levels before menopause than men of the same age.
- Lack of exercise: Regular physical activity tends to keep cholesterol levels in check. Exercise helps increase “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” cholesterol
- Weight: Obesity or being over-weight with a BMI of 30 can cause high cholesterol levels. Losing weight can help reduce cholesterol levels in a person.
- Diet: In order to control your cholesterol levels, it is necessary to control the saturated fat and cholesterol intake from food. Red meat and full fat dairy products increase cholesterol levels.
- Smoking: this damages the walls of your blood vessels, making them likely to accumulate fatty deposits.
- High blood pressure damages the artery walls and speeds up accumulation of fatty deposits.
- Diabetes contributes to higher levels of “bad” cholesterol and lower levels of “good” cholesterol
One of the most common questions asked by those suffering from high cholesterol is – how to control cholesterol or how to reduce cholesterol? While certain factors like age and heredity may not be avoidable, it is possible to lower cholesterol levels by following the methods given below:
- Eating low-cholesterol foods: The daily cholesterol intake of a healthy human should not exceed 300miligrams. Those suffering from heart diseases should limit their intake to 200miligrams.
- Quit smoking: Smoking decreases HDL in the body.
- Exercise: Physical activity increases the HDL level in the body and is essential to control cholesterol. It can help control weight gain, obesity and high blood pressure.
- Medication: Cholesterol lowering drugs may be prescribed by your doctor if the above mentioned methods are not showing any results. It is however necessary to continue applying the above methods along with taking medication.