Cholesterol is an essential part of every cell structure and is needed for proper brain and nerve function. It is also needed for manufacturing sex hormones.
There are two types of cholesterol in our body, Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and High Density Lipoprotein(HDL). LDL is a bad cholesterol as it seems to encourage deposit of plaque in the wall of arteries resulting in poor blood circulation, clogged arteries follow by strokes and heart diseases. On the other hand, High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is considered a good cholesterol who transports unneeded or bad cholesterols away from the cells and back to the liver for cleansing.
High bad Cholesterols levels may also be implicated in gallstones, erectile dysfunction, mental impairment and high blood pressure. It is important to differentiate serum cholesterol and dietary cholesterol. Serum cholesterol is the cholesterol in the bloodstream. Dietary Cholesterol is from the food. You would have some amount of serum cholesterol even if you never eat any food containing dietary cholesterols because the body produces its own cholesterol.
Cholesterol levels affected by diet, but they are also due to genetic makeup. The consumption of food high in cholesterol or saturated fat increase cholesterol levels , while a vegetarian diet, regular exercise and certain nutrients and vitamin may lower the cholesterol.
The National Heart, Lung and Institute guidelines for cholesterol levels are:
- Less Than 100 mg/dL-Optimal
- 100-129 mg/dL – Near optimal/less than optimal
- 130-159 mg/dL- Borderline High
- 160-189 mg/dL High
- Greater than or equal to 190 mg/dL -Very High
- Less Than 40mg/dL- Low: A major risk factor for heart disease
- 60mg/dL and above- Protective against heart disease
- Less than 200 mg/dL- Desirable
- 200-239 mg/dL – Borderline high
- Greater or equal to 240 mg/dL – High
If you have abnormal reading on any of the above, consult your doctor . You will probably need to adjust your diet , increasing your exercise . Regular exercise and workout helps to raise your HDL and hence reduce the risk of heart disease, clogged arteries or call Atherosclerosis . I am not a big fan of taking drugs. It should be the last resort if you are at the borderline case , instead emphasize on more exercise ,diet control and nutrition management. Depends on individual body conditions, they may cause known and unknown side effects and having too depending on it for life. For example, Statins are particularly well suited for lowering LDL, the cholesterol with the strongest links to vascular diseases. However there may be a risk of severe muscle damage (myopathy & rhabdomyolysis) with statins and liver functions need to be examined periodically.
There are a few recommendation on nutrients in take to lower bad cholesterol level such as Chinese Red Yeast , Coenzyme Q10, Fiber from Oat Bran, Garlic , Vitamin A, B-complex, C and E. Some herbs includes hawthorn berries and Cinnamon. Include the following Cholesterol lowering food in your diet : almonds, apples, banana, carrot, salmon, olive oil, oats, garlic, strawberries and walnut. Make sure you take plenty of fiber in the forms of vegetables, fruits , whole grains and brown rice. Fresh Celery, carrot and beet juices are great antioxidant cholesterol lowering drinks.