Diseases and Conditions: Cholesterol A Guide

Cholesterol is an important and misunderstood topic, so we hope to shed some light on the topic here. We’ll give you a comprehensive overview of cholesterol, what it is, how it works in the body, and how it can affect your health. We’ll also take a look at the signs and symptoms of high and low cholesterol, the best ways to monitor it, and the different treatments available. We’ll also discuss the latest research and news on the topic. Our goal is to provide accurate and up-to-date information so that you can make informed decisions about your health. So join us as we explore the fascinating world of cholesterol.

What is Cholesterol?

In all the parts of the body, there is cholesterol, a waxy substance.

The main function of cholesterol is to help form cell membranes and provide energy for cells. Cholesterol also helps maintain healthy skin and hair, as well as the lining of the digestive tract.

High levels of cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, such as coronary artery disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

The most common type of cholesterol, also known as high-density lipoprotein, or good cholesterol, has been shown to protect against cardiovascular diseases by carrying excess LDL away from cells that can clog arteries. The other types of cholesterol include low density lipoproteins which carry fat through blood vessels; very low density lipoprotein and triglycerides. These substances have no direct effect on your health but they may be risk factors for coronary artery disease.

Where is Cholesterol found?

Cholesterol is found in all parts of the body, including the brain, spinal cord, nerves, skin, muscles, bones, blood vessels, heart, lungs, kidneys, intestines, eyes, ears, nose, throat, pancreas, stomach, spleen, and reproductive system.

Total cholesterol: less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)

  • LDL cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
  • HDL cholesterol: 60 mg/dL or higher

What causes Cholesterol?

  • Eating too much fat or sugar
  • Not exercising enough – Maintaining healthy weight reduces the risk of not just high cholesterol but some other ailments like heart diseases, 
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having diabetes
  • Having a family history of heart disease
  • Being overweight
  • Being stressed
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Not drinking enough water

What are the types of Cholesterol?

There are two types of cholesterol:

High-density lipoproteins (HDL) – HDL is also called Good Cholesterol, carries cholesterol away from the body’s tissues and back into the liver where it is processed out of the bloodstream.

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) – LDL is also called Bad Cholesterol, carries cholesterol to the tissues where it is used to build new cells.

Symptoms of high LDL or low HDL Cholesterol?

There are many symptoms related to an increase in bad cholesterol and a decrease in good cholesterol. 

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle Aches
  • Irregular Heartbeats
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Swollen Ankles
  • Frequent Colds
  • Poor Memory
  • Shortness of breath

Risks of untreated Cholesterol? – Complications, health risks, not treated

Abdominal pain. Fatty foods, including fried foods, can raise your cholesterol level. Eating too much fat can cause abdominal pain.

Gallstones. Too much cholesterol in your bile can form gallstones.

Kidney stones. Excess cholesterol in your urine can form kidney stones.

Stroke. High cholesterol levels can increase your risk of having a stroke.

Heart attack. High cholesterol levels can contribute to atherosclerosis, which narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow to in your urine can turn into crystals that form kidney stones.

Home Remedies for Cholesterol? – Natural Remedies

Preventing Cholesterol? – Ways to Prevent

Eat a low-fat diet. Fatty foods increase cholesterol levels.

Limit saturated fat intake. Saturated fats raise cholesterol levels.

Reduce dietary cholesterol by limiting egg yolk consumption. Egg yolks contain high amounts of cholesterol.

Cut back on red meat. Red meat is high in saturated fat.

Choose lean meats. Lean cuts of beef, pork, lamb and veal have less saturated fat than fatty cuts.

Eat fish. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce cholesterol levels.

Drink plenty of water. Water helps flush toxins from the body.

Exercise regularly. Regular exercise reduces stress and increases energy levels. It also improves digestion and can help control blood sugar levels.

Get enough fiber. Fiber helps keep your digestive system moving smoothly. The National Institutes of Health recommends consuming 5 to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber as a part of a healthy diet each day to decrease total and LDL cholesterol levels. When eaten, soluble fiber attracts water in the body, which turns the fiber into a gel-like substance and ultimately slows down digestion, making you feel fuller longer.

Food as Medicine for Cholesterol

Foods to Eat to Reduce Cholesterol

Foods rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Fish oil is one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce blood triglyceride levels. The body needs these fats for healthy skin, hair, and nails. The are other foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds.

Foods rich in Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Niacin is found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. The best sources of niacin include beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, and organ meats.

Foods rich in Soluble Fiber

Foods rich in soluble fibers include oats, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol levels by reducing absorption of cholesterol in the blood stream.

Foods to Avoid when Having High Cholesterol Levels

Foods that contain saturated fats.

Foods containing high level of saturated fats include butter, cheese, cream, milk, eggs, red meat, and whole milk. The American Heart Association recommends limiting consumption of saturated fat to less than 7 percent of total calories.

Foods that have trans fats.

Transfats are found in processed food such as cookies, crackers, cakes, pies, pastries, fried foods, and other baked goods. They are also used in margarine, shortening, and some oils. The FDA has set limits for trans fats in food, which are now less than 1 gram per serving.

Foods that are high in sodium.

Foods that contain high levels of salt include breads, cereals, soups, sauces, gravies, and canned vegetables. The best way to avoid these foods is to read labels and choose lower-sodium options.

Foods that contain refined sugars.

Refined sugar is a type of sugar that has been processed into granules, crystals, or powder form. The main types of refined sugar include white sugar, brown sugar, confectioners’ sugar, icing sugar, corn syrup, honey, molasses, maple syrup, and agave nectar. These sweeteners are often used in baked goods, candies, cakes, cookies, and other desserts.

Risk Factor

Genetics. Your genes play a role in whether you develop cholesterol problems. About half of all Americans have some form of elevated cholesterol.

Diet. Eating foods that contain saturated fats and trans fat can increase your risk of high cholesterol.

Obesity. Being overweight or obese puts you at increased risk of high cholesterol. In addition, excess weight causes your liver to produce more cholesterol.

Physical inactivity. Regular exercise reduces your risk of high cholesterol by improving your overall fitness level.

Alcohol use. Excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol.

Age. Older adults are more likely to have high cholesterol.

Gender. Women are more likely than men to have high cholesterol. However, men trans fats can increase your risk of high cholesterol. Foods high in cholesterol include eggs, meat, poultry, butter, cheese, milk products and shellfish.

Weight gain. Excess weight puts extra strain on your heart and raises your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease.