Description of High cholesterol
Cholesterol is a type of fat in the blood which is essential for healthy growth and development. However, if the levels of this fat increase beyond the requirement of the body, it can be harmful. The body usually makes all the cholesterol it needs from the food we eat daily.
Causes and Risk Factors
There are different types of cholesterol depending upon the type of protein carrier molecule to which they are attached. They are:
1. Low density lipoproteins (LDL): The ‘bad cholesterol’ as they carry the fats, depositing them in the arteries and making them narrow and hard.
2. High density lipoproteins (HDL): The ‘good cholesterol’ which picks up the extra fat and carries them to the liver without depositing it in the arteries.
There are a number of risk factors which can predispose people to high cholesterol in their blood such as:
Lifestyle/alterable risk factors include,
1. High fat diet: Eating fatty foods which are of animal origin and have high amounts of trans fats. Foods such as full-fat dairy and meat are also rich in cholesterol.
2. Obesity: Having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30 increases the risk.
3. Large waist circumference: A waist circumference of more than 40 inches in a man and more than 35 inches in a woman puts them at a greater risk.
4. Lack of physical exercise
Unalterable risk factors include,
2. Blood pressure
3. Polycystic ovarian disease
5. Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)
Signs and Symptoms
Having high cholesterol does not present with any signs and symptoms, but puts a person at a higher risk for many other conditions. Usually, high cholesterol levels are picked up through a regular blood test and screening. In rare cases, high cholesterol may start getting deposited around the eyes called as xanthelasma.
The only way to diagnose high cholesterol in the blood is through a blood test. This test is usually done after a period of overnight fasting of 10 to 12 hours without any food, drink or pills. This is done to get an accurate reading and eliminate false positive readings. This test is called a lipid profile which reports:
1. Total cholesterol (optimal levels -- less than 200 mg/dL)
2. LDL cholesterol (optimal levels -- less than 100 mg/dL)
3. HDL cholesterol (optimal levels -- within 40 to 60mgdL)
4. Triglycerides (optimal levels -- less than 150 mg/dL)
5. VLDL cholesterol (optimal levels -- less than 30 mg/dL)
The most important component of treatment is lifestyle modification and exercising. After having implemented these, if your cholesterol levels are still high, medications will be advised. Common drugs given for lowering cholesterol levels are:
2. Bile acid binding resins
Complications and When Should You See a Doctor
The most common complication of high cholesterol is atherosclerosis or deposition of fats in the walls of the arteries. This narrows the arteries and reduces the rate of blood flow. This condition can cause symptoms such as:
1. Chest pain (angina)
2. Heart attack
3. Brain stroke
In case of the following signs and symptoms a medical professional should be consulted immediately:
1. Sudden chest pain
2. Sudden breathlessness
3. Gradually increasing breathlessness on regular activity
4. Dizziness, confusion
5. Blurring vision
6. Numbness of a part of face or a body part
7. Slurred speech/slow speech
8. Difficulty in walking
Frequently Asked Questions about High cholesterol
The pthalides in celery, stimulates the secretion of the bile juices that further reduces the cholesterol levels. Less cholesterol means less plague on the artery walls and thereby improves the overall health of the heart. Studies suggest that daily consumption of celery has found to reduce the LDL or ‘bad cholesterol’. Ways To Use: Prepare a juice by juicing 4 celery stalks, 1 cucumber and 1 lime. Pour in 100 ml of coconut water and stir to blend. Have immediately.
Statins are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for patients with cardiovascular diseases. These are medications that lower blood cholesterol levels and are also known as HMG-CoA inhibitors. Atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, and some others are easily available in the market.
There is a high chance that the muscle problems related to statins actually come from lower levels of vitamin D. People who initially had a deficiency of vitamin D are more likely to complain about muscle problems after consuming statins. Hence, vitamin D supplements may help solve the muscle problems. Talk to your doctor about this problem.
You can keep your cholesterol levels in check by making simple, but effective dietary changes, opting for an exercise regimen, and keeping your weight in check.
Rich in fiber, beans have been proved to be a very healthy option for a healthy heart. Beans supply close to one-third of the required fiber content. Beans make you feel full for a longer while and therefore is also beneficial for weight management. Studies show that daily intake of beans have found to lower the cholesterol by up to 8%.
Mango comes loaded with vitamin C, pectin, and dietary fiber that control cholesterol in the blood. Minerals like potassium take care of the blood pressure and improve heart-health.
It is due to the presence of high density lipoprotiens (HDL) that your heart stays healthy. HDL constantly works to carry the cholesterol back to the liver away from the cells. In the liver, the cholesterol is either broken down or excreted as a waste.
Most of the times, high cholesterol levels are related to unhealthy lifestyle. Some of the most common causes include: smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, genetic factors, unhealthy eating habits, and family history.
Indian foods that help in lowering the cholesterol levels: 1) Methi 2) Garlic 3) Onion 4) Walnuts 5) Flax seeds
Walnuts are rich sources of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids and help in reducing cholesterol levels. They also help in keeping blood vessels healthy How to use: Take a handful of walnuts (40 g) daily. You can add them to breakfast cereals, fruit salads, or take them as a snack. Make sure the walnuts are not salted or sugar coated.
Statins work best when they are taken in small doses of around 20 mg. A small dose can reduce the cholesterol levels by 25%. However, taking higher doses may not help. Doubling a dose will further reduce just 6% of cholesterol levels. Also, higher doses can lead to unwanted side effects.
Below are some effective ways to lower your cholesterol levels without popping pills: 1) Say NO to trans fats 2) Switch to olive oil 3) Have a fiber rich diet 4) Choose colorful fruits and veggies 5) Add cholesterol lowering spices 6) Keep your weight in check 7) Exercise regularly 8) Have a handful of nuts 9) Quit smoking 10) Stay happy
Abundant in beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that acts as a cholesterol buster, absorbs the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the body. The consumed beta-glucan binds to the cholesterol and prevents its absorption in the human body. Studies show, including oats as a breakfast meal, was found to lower the LDL levels by 5.3% in a span of 6 weeks.
Cholesterol is a lipid molecule (type of fat) that is produced by the liver and is essential for the functioning of the human body. Each and every cell in the human body has an outer layer of cholesterol. You may be surprised to know that cholesterol is not bad itself, rather it is one of the many important substances that are required to keep the body healthy.
It is low density lipoprotiens (LDL) that carries the cholesterol from the liver to the cells. There are chances that your body may transport an amount exceeding the normal which can be a matter of concern. If too much LDL is circulated in the blood, it would slowly start depositing along the inner walls of the arteries connecting the heart and the brain.
When you have more than your body needs, cholesterol can cause plaque to build-up in your blood vessels. This thick, hard plaque can clog your arteries like a blocked pipe. Reduced blood flow can lead to stroke and heart attack.
Fenugreek (methi) seeds are rich in a compound called saponins that reduce cholesterol absorption from food. They also help in lowering the production of cholesterol in the body. How to use: Roast methi seeds till they turn brown. Make a powder from the roasted seeds. and add one spoon of powder to a glass of to warm water and have it daily.
Flaxseeds also called linseed or Alsi are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. They are rich in fiber that binds to cholesterol and decreases its absorption from foods. Flaxseeds also help in increasing good cholesterol levels. How to use: Grind the seeds into a fine powder. Add one teaspoon of this powder to water and have it first thing in the morning daily, you can also sprinkle a spoonful of flaxseeds to breakfast cereals, chutneys, or salads.
A compound called sterol in cucumber helps reduce bad cholesterol. So, every bite of that cucumber slice helps your heart in innumerable ways.
Consuming 2 to 3 grams of dry ginger everyday has been associated with lowering cholesterol levels. Consuming ginger activates an enzyme that increases body’s use of cholesterol. It also protects a diabetic person’s organs such as liver and kidneys.
Brown rice is a healthy option for maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol as it has naturally occurring oil. It contains beneficial nutrients that help in lipid and glucose metabolism. It has been proven that consumption of brown rice significantly improves the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol concentration (good cholesterol).
Research shows that milk thistle’s active component, ‘Silymarin’ decreases low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (bad cholesterol) and raises high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (good cholesterol) levels in our blood. This improves the overall cardiovascular health and significantly reduces the chances of heart-attacks.
Though most patients with heart problems use statins, it is also often recommended to those who might be at risk of heart-related diseases, but are otherwise healthy currently. People with a high junk diet, smokers, or people with a family history of heart-related diseases are potential candidates for statins.
While statins are known as cholesterol-lowering drugs, studies show that they have more benefits like preventing plaques in the arteries from rupturing and causing a blockage of blood flow. This is one reason statins may be given even after a heart attack.
Foods that help to lower down the cholesterol levels: 1) Nuts 2) Beans 3) Oats 4) Spinach 5) Soya foods
Rich in lutein, a yellow pigment found in dark green leafy vegetables, protects the heart by preventing the clogging of the arteries. With a rich nutritional profile, it has several other health benefits to its name, it also helps to keep a check on the weight therefore reducing chances of heart diseases. Studies show that daily intake of spinach has been found to reduce the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels by 5%.
Cholesterol helps in building and maintaining the cell membranes (outer layer of the cells). It is an essential molecule for the synthesis of bile acids, vitamin D, and steroid hormones Cholesterol converts the energy from sunlight into vitamin D in your body. It is involved in production of sex hormones: androgens and estrogens. Cholesterol is also essential for the metabolism of fat soluble vitamins namely A, D, E, and K.
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood plasma of your body. Triglycerides in plasma come from either fat in the food you eat, or they are made in the body from other energy sources like carbs.
You can get your cholesterol levels checked by a simple blood test from a good lab.
Garlic, contains allicin which helps lower total cholesterol, bad cholesterol, and triglycerides. It also prevents fat deposition within blood vessels. How to use: Crush 2 to 3 garlic cloves and add them to a glass of water. Take it empty stomach every morning.
The pthalides in celery, stimulates the secretion of the bile juices that further reduces the cholesterol levels. Less cholesterol means less plague on the artery walls and thereby improves the overall health of the heart. Studies suggest that daily consumption of celery has found to reduce the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad cholesterol'. Ways to use: Prepare a juice by juicing 4 celery stalks, 1 cucumber, and 1 lime. Pour in 100 ml of coconut water and stir to blend. Have immediately.
The most common problem that has been associated with statins is muscle weakness. Most patients do not experience this side effect. If you do experience sudden lethargy and general body aches after starting a statin or after an increased dosage, bring it to your doctor’s attention. However, research studies have shown that not all statins lead to muscle problems. Rosuvastatin is one of the safer ones.
Dietary supplements made from red yeast rice contained substances such as monacolins (similar to the active ingredients in the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs). Though there are not any published studies reporting the comparison of the efficacy of red yeast rice and statins; however, evidences suggest that red yeast rice products are considered unhealthy for use. Some of the common adverse reactions from the red yeast rice products include muscle pain, gastrointestinal problems, and liver injury. The experts suggested that it is best to take such supplements only when prescribed by the doctor.
Rich source of all the vital nutrients and minerals, nuts (especially walnuts, peanuts and almonds) have been found to lower cholesterol levels significantly. Nuts have also been found to provide additional protection to the heart and helps to keep it healthy. Studies show that daily intake of walnuts, was found to lower the LDL levels by 9.3% in a span of 4 weeks.
Soy foods such as tofu and soy milk, are rich sources of protein and are effective in bringing down the cholesterol levels. The proteins constituting these foods have been found to directly regulate the cholesterol levels in the body. Studies show that daily intake of 25 grams of soy proteins was found to lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels by 5% to 6%.
There are three main types: high density lipoproteins (good cholesterol), low density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol), and triglycerides.
In most of the people, there are no signs and symptoms making it even more dangerous for health. The best way to know is to get a regular health check-up and to ask your doctor for blood tests that check cholesterol levels.
The doctor might prescribe some cholesterol lowering medications depending on various factors like age, cholesterol level, and presence of other diseases. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the most important step to lower and maintain cholesterol levels. Stay active. Take up walking, running ,swimming, or cycling to help in keeping the cholesterol in check. If you have a sedentary job, make sure to move around and go for short walks atleast every 2 hours. Choose a healthy oil like olive oil or rice bran oil and make sure to use it in moderation. Cut down on deep fried, processed foods as well as sweets and packaged foods. Quit smoking.
Onions are rich sources of antioxidants. They also help reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol levels in the body. How to use: Add sliced onion to your daily salads regularly.
Jeera is packed with antioxidants which helps maintain and reduce cholesterol levels. Studies show that enzymes in cumin reduce oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL), triglycerides, and other bad fats in the bloodstream. Cumin tea is beneficial in both losing weight and lowering cholesterol. Steep 1 spoon of cumin seeds in hot water for 5 to 7 minutes and drink it after meals.
Like many whole foods, broccoli is packed with soluble fiber that draws cholesterol out of your body.
Some studies have shown that olives lower blood pressure levels. Oleic acid in olives which has been linked to heart health lowers the cholesterol level.
Eggplant can be beneficial to health due to its ability to fight inflammation and oxidative stress leading to healthier arteries and more balanced cholesterol levels. It helps prevent plague build-up in the main arteries including the aorta. While your body does need a certain amount of cholesterol, consuming eggplant is co-related with balancing the amount that is held within your blood vessel walls and improves the blood flow.