Being aware and understanding heart health, becomes extremely important once growing older. A key component of it is controlling cholesterol, as it’s known to be one of its primary detrimental blocks.
Monitoring cholesterol, becomes a vital function one needs to maintain, along with physical activity.
Vices such as smoking or excess drinking, along with genetics all contributes to the state of ones heart.
What too much of this fatty substance does, is develops blockages in the blood vessel walls, which increases the risk of heart disease such as stroke.
What the body also needs, is a certain amount of cholesterol to function.
What Is Cholesterol
Our bodies naturally produce this fatty substance known as cholesterol, for hormone production notably testosterone and estrogen, as well as for cellular growth.
We also ingest this fat from the foods we eat, such as from meat, poultry, eggs, and cheese.
The liver stores and secretes cholesterol in our bodies, delivering it to the bloodstream.
After eating, the cholesterol found in the food is absorbed by the small intestine, which is then metabolized by the liver, and either stored or secreted.
High amounts of cholesterol can clog the arteries causing blockage, which leads to heart disease.
1 – Different Types Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is classified into three different types. Low density lipoproteins (LDL), high density lipoproteins (HDL), and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL).
The combination of these substances, makes up the total cholesterol in the body.
Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream via proteins. Once cholesterol attaches to protein, it becomes known as a lipoprotein.
The three types of lipoproteins, are categorized by how much protein versus cholesterol that’s present.
2 – Role Of LDL Cholesterol
LDL is a lipoprotein, that’s characterized by having the highest cholesterol to protein ratio.
Most are familiar with LDL as being the “bad” cholesterol, as too much of it, is associated with plaque buildup and formation on the artery walls.
What plaque buildup over time leads to is the narrowing of the arteries, atherosclerosis, which can result in limited blood flow.
This can result in the formation of blood clots, stroke, heart attack, or myocardial infarction.
3 – Role Of HDL Cholesterol
HDL is considered the hero, when it comes to cholesterol. HDL earned this reputation as being the “good” cholesterol, because it contains a higher protein versus cholesterol ratio.
What HDL cholesterol does is admiral work inside the arteries, as it pulls and cleanses excess cholesterol from the artery walls, allowing the liver to eliminate them.
Ideally, what’s needed is more of the good HDL cholesterol in the body than the LDL cholesterol.
What doing so lowers the risk of developing peripheral artery disease, cardiovascular disease, or to avoid a stroke or heart attack.
4 – Role Of VLDL Cholesterol
Most have never heard of VLDL, and the reason being because there’s no easy way to regulate or measure it, during a routine cholesterol screening process. All that’s know is it exists.
There’s a separate test that’s needed, to measure the level of VLDL cholesterol in the blood.
VLDL cholesterol contains less protein than LDL.
What high levels of VLDL cholesterol, similar to high levels of LDL, does is contributes to the formation of plaque deposits inside the artery walls.
The plaque deposits then limits blood flow, causing narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to blood clots, stroke, and heart attack.
5 – Recommended Healthy Cholesterol Levels
What a simple blood test does, is reveals what the LDL and HDL levels are, but not VLDL.
What experts recommend for adults who are 20 years or older, is to get their cholesterol checked every several years.
Testing should be increased more often for risk groups, such as seniors, those who are obese, or are heart disease patients.
There are certain cholesterol guidelines and levels which are considered healthy, such as the total cholesterol levels should be around 200 mg/dL or lower.
Borderline levels are considered to be 200 to 239 mg/dL, while high cholesterol levels are 240 mg/dL or higher.
6 – How To Reverse High Bad Cholesterol
What’s known is having high cholesterol is reversible. Doing so however, can at times be easier said than done.
The reason for this, is because most who has high bad cholesterol, are forced to make significant lifestyle changes, to reduce their bad LDL cholesterol levels.
This sounds like a broken record for many, but the key when it comes to lowering cholesterol, along with other poor health conditions, is by living a healthier lifestyle.
This includes recommendations such as eating healthy foods, while getting more exercise. Avoid vices like smoking and drinking.
7 – Foods To Eat
What fats usually get is a bad rap, as certain fats along with protein and carbohydrates, are essential macronutrients, that our bodies need for proper functioning.
There are a variety available, which promotes better health. What “good” fats such as unsaturated fats does, is lowers LDL while raising HDL levels.
Fatty foods such as nuts, seeds, and certain vegetable oils such as canola, avocado, and olive oil are recommended, as are foods that are reduced in fat.
Foods such as lean poultry, or fresh water fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna are recommended as well.
8 – Foods To Avoid
What’s known when it comes to the bad LDL cholesterol, is it’s associated with consuming saturated and trans fats.
Saturated fats should be consumed in moderation. They’re readily found in fatty beef, pork, and lamb, along with fatty dairy products like cream and butter.
Trans fats are unsaturated fats which contains hydrogen to solidify it. Trans fats are usually found in lower cost fried food, store made pastries, cookies, cakes, and pies.
Make sure you always carefully read the food labels on all manufactured goods, to avoid these types of fat.
9 – Medication To Lower Cholesterol
It begins with living a healthy lifestyle, by consuming healthy fats while getting plenty of exercise, which helps in lowering high cholesterol.
There are elevated cases however, where doctors may prescribe medication to lower cholesterol, if it’s thought there’s an increased risk of heart disease.
The most common medication are statins. Other lipid-lowering drugs include cholesterol lowering inhibitors, fibrates, and resins, along with a host of others.
It’s important to note they should be the considered the last resort, to lower cholesterol.