What Is Cholesterol? What Causes High Cholesterol Levels?

Rising cholesterol levels and increasing risk of developing heart disease are major concerns many in modern society. As we know high amounts of cholesterol in the blood can be very dangerous and deadly. Unhealthy lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits are two main reasons for high cholesterol levels. It is important to keep your cholesterol levels within healthy limits and protect your heart from deadly diseases. So, let’s check out what is cholesterol and what are the different types of cholesterol?

What is Cholesterol? Types of Cholesterol and More

Cholesterol is a waxy substance or blood fat that is made by the liver. In general, cholesterol is not a bad thing at all because it is essential for certain body functions. It plays important role in the formation and function of every cell in the body. Cholesterol is an essential element of our body that helps to make healthy cell walls. It is also needed to make hormones and Vitamin D. Cholesterol also aids in fat digestion. Therefore, we can see that our body needs cholesterol to function properly but only in moderate amounts. Lipoprotein is a conjugated protein having a lipid (fat) component is responsible for carrying cholesterol throughout the body.

Summary: Functions of Cholesterol
Forms and maintains healthy cell walls
Hormone production
Vitamin D production
Aids fat digestion

There are two types of lipoproteins that help cholesterol to travel through the body- low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). It is important to have a good balance of LDL and HDL in the body for good health. LDL cholesterol is considered as the bad cholesterol and HDL cholesterol is considered as good cholesterol. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is the harmful type of cholesterol because it is responsible for cholesterol build up in the arteries. This condition can lead to heart disease and heart attack. HDL cholesterol on the other hand, carries excess cholesterol from other parts of the body to liver. Liver removes the cholesterol from your body. Thus, good HDL cholesterol levels reduce the chances of developing atherosclerosis or any other deadly heart disease.

What Causes High Cholesterol Levels?

High cholesterol levels in the blood can be a result of many things. Bad and unhealthy eating habit is one of the main culprits. Too much saturated fat and trans fat in the food can cause high cholesterol levels. Some of the major sources of saturated fat are red meat, whole milk, egg yolks, butter, and cheese. Trans fat mostly comes from packaged foods, fried foods, chips, cookies and crackers. It is important to reduce the consumption of total amount of fat. It can help you to keep your heart healthy.

Lack of physical activity, exercise or being overweight can reduce the amounts of HDL cholesterol. High cholesterol levels in the blood can be a consequence of your family health history. Some diseases like chronic kidney disease, livers diseases, diabetes can be responsible for high levels of cholesterol in the blood. Also, certain medications can raise the bad cholesterol levels and decrease the levels of good cholesterol in the blood. Age is also an important factor. Cholesterol levels start to rise after the age of twenty. Last but not the least, smoking and alcohol consumption increase the LDL cholesterol levels and lowers the levels of HDL cholesterol.

Summary: Causes of High Cholesterol Levels
Bad eating habits
Lack of Exercise
Certain diseases
Certain medications
Family health history
Smoking and alcohol

High cholesterol levels in the blood are extremely dangerous for heart health. It can increase your chance of getting heart disease, stroke, and other problems.

AHA (American Heart Association) Recommendation

We recommend using the absolute numbers for total blood cholesterol and HDL cholesterol levels. They're more useful to physicians than the cholesterol ratio in determining the appropriate treatment for patients.

Some physicians and cholesterol technicians use the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol in place of the total blood cholesterol. The ratio is obtained by dividing the HDL cholesterol level into the total cholesterol. For example, if a person has a total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL and an HDL cholesterol level of 50 mg/dL, the ratio would be 4:1. The goal is to keep the ratio below 5:1; the optimum ratio is 3.5:1.

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Best Foods to Lower Cholesterol Levels

Unhealthy cholesterol levels are bad for the health. That means if the cholesterol levels are too high or if the cholesterol levels are too low can cause danger to the heart. What we eat significantly affects our cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is essential for the body to function properly and most of cholesterol in the body is manufactured by the liver. Rest comes from our diet or what we eat. If you eat foods high in cholesterol then that can result excess cholesterol in the body and it can lead to heart attack and stroke...

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Kreetika said...

Very Useful article.

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