LDL And HDL Cholesterol – Learn Practical Strategies To Keep Your Cholesterol Under Control
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with high levels of cholesterol, then you’re are at a higher risk of getting heart disease or stroke. However, the good news is that with a simple change in lifestyle you can lower your cholesterol level and keep it under control.
Therefore, if you’re looking to understand cholesterol and learn some practical strategies to keep it under control, then you’ll love this post.
I’m certain you’ve heard a lot about LDL and HDL; “Bad” and “Good” Cholesterol. In the same way, you’ll possibly agree with me that cholesterol has generally received a false charge because of its part in the cause of certain illness like heart disease and stroke.
Nonetheless, it is also important to note that cholesterol is essential for your body to function properly. In fact, your liver produces cholesterol and your body needs it to make hormones, vitamin D, and a substance that support digestion; known as bile.
Therefore, if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with high levels of cholesterol, it’s important to understand what cholesterol is and why it’s necessary to keep it under control.
Because, despite your liver can produce enough cholesterol for the body, we also get a lot more cholesterol from the food we eat.
Therefore, the aim of this post is to help raise your awareness and provide you with some simple practical strategies to help you lower your cholesterol level and keep it under control.
So, what is cholesterol?
Simply put, cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance made by your liver but also come from certain food we eat. This fat-like substance is then packaged into particles called lipoproteins, which transport cholesterol into our bloodstream.
Lipoproteins largely contain cholesterol, triacylglycerol, phospholipids, and amphipathic proteins usually termed apolipoproteins. You can visit this link if you’re interested in reading more about the structure of lipoproteins.
Yet, it is important to point out that lipoproteins are mostly differentiated based on their density and also the type of apolipoproteins they contain.
Thus, the degree of lipid (fatty acids or their derivatives and are insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents) in a lipoprotein largely influences its density – and the higher the density of a lipoprotein, the less lipid (fat) it contains relative to protein.
So, in general, we have four main types of lipoproteins, namely, chylomicrons, very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
But the two most important with regards to high cholesterol are low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
So what bad about having high cholesterol
High levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in your bloodstream can mix with fats and other substances to build up plaque in the inner walls of your arteries. With time, your arteries can become clogged and narrow. This, in turn, will reduce or sometimes completely block the flow of blood to your heart, causing a heart attack.
Similarly, if the blood flow to your brain is blocked or significantly reduced due to the plaque in the inner walls of your arteries leading to your brain, it can cause a stroke.
But the good news is healthcare professionals normally run a simple blood test to check your cholesterol levels. This test is known as lipid profile. The test measures your total cholesterol level and its individual parts including triglycerides.
The lipid profile is centred on the two most important type of lipoproteins, which are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), but then again it looks at another type of fat called triglycerides.
Common terms in the lipid profile test
Total cholesterol - measure the total amount of cholesterol in your blood and includes the HDL, LDL, and triglycerides numbers.
LDL cholesterol – commonly known as “bad” cholesterol makes up most of the body’s cholesterol. It delivers cholesterol to the cells, where it is used in membranes, or for the synthesis of steroid hormones. However, having high levels can lead to plaque build-up in your arteries and result in heart disease and stroke.
HDL cholesterol - commonly known as “good” cholesterol, plays an important part in the reversal of cholesterol. It absorbs cholesterol and transports it back to the liver, which flushes it out from the body. HDL is known as “good” cholesterol because having high levels can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Triglycerides - are a class of fat found in your bloodstream that your body uses for energy. The merging of high levels of triglycerides with high LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol could lead to increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. General risk factors for high Triglycerides are obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
A summary of the fates of lipoproteins produced by the liver is illustrated below
Are there any symptoms of high cholesterol?
Generally, there are no signs or symptoms associated with high levels of cholesterol. Therefore, it’s important to get your cholesterol level checked.
The American Heart Association recommends that all adults age 20 or older have their cholesterol and other traditional risk factors checked every four to six years. After that, people should work with their healthcare professionals to determine their risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke to help decide if you require treatment.
Practical Strategies To Keep Your Cholesterol Under Control
I hope by now you’re familiar with the risk of having high levels of LDL cholesterol in your body.
Nonetheless, the good news is that no matter your age, race or ethnicity, you can take small steps every day to keep your cholesterol within a healthy range.
Remember, it is only YOU who can help prevent and manage your high levels of cholesterol by making healthy choices and by handling any health conditions you may have.
Therefore, you should be aware that depending on your lifestyle, there could be several lifestyles changes you may have to make to keep your cholesterol level under control.
The first step is to know your numbers. High cholesterol have few symptoms, so it is important you stay aware of your cholesterol numbers.
Therefore, I would suggest at least five key numbers you should always be mindful of: Total Cholesterol, HDL (good) Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI).
For your Total and HDL Cholesterol, you can get your cholesterol checked and then talk to your health care professional about your numbers to help you understand how they impact your overall risk.
- Blood Pressure should normally be less than 120/80 mm Hg,
- Fasting Blood Sugar less than 100 mg/dL, and
- Body Mass Index (BMI) less than 25 kg/m2.
The second step is to adopt a healthy lifestyle (living habits)
By this I mean you can learn to eat healthy foods, reach and maintain a healthy weight and try to be physically active. By adopting such approach, you can keep your cholesterol level in a healthy range as well as lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
A healthy lifestyle may include but not limited to eating a healthy diet, stop smoking and tobacco usage, regular exercise, or any related physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and stop or limit your alcohol intake.
So, what should I eat?
- Avoid eating foods high in saturated and trans fats
- Fruits and vegetables - boost your fiber intake
- Eat whole grain foods - cereal, Oats, and brown rice (At least half of the servings should be whole grains.)
- Fat-free or at most 1.5 % and low-fat dairy products
- Poultry without skin and lean meats
- For red meat and pork, it’s better to choose products labelled “loin” and “round.” These options usually have the least amount of fat
- Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, albacore tuna and sardines. (Enjoy at least two servings baked or grilled each week.)
- Unsalted nuts, seeds, and legumes (dried beans or peas).
- Nontropical vegetable oils like canola, corn, olive, or safflower oils.
What should I limit, restrict or cut-back?
- Foods with a lot of sodium (salt)
- Sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages (Cutting back on sugar helps you lose weight fast
- Red meats and fatty meats that aren’t trimmed
- Processed meats with a lot of sodium
- Full-fat dairy products such as whole milk, cream, ice cream, butter, and cheese
- Saturated. solid and trans fats from foods like donuts, cakes cookies, stick margarine
- Saturated oils like coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil
- Fried foods & fast foods
On the other hand, some individuals may also need to take medication to help lower their cholesterol as changing their diets and lifestyle may not be enough. However, your healthcare specialist will help you develop a plan to improve and keep your cholesterol under control.
Now it’s your turn
I hope this article help raise your awareness about high cholesterol and how to lower and keep it under control. If you have any questions, you're always welcome to leave a comment for discussion.
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Peace and Blessings!