Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is vital for most body organs especially the brain, skin, and nerves. It is important in the synthesis of vitamin D, Steroidal hormones, and plays important role in the formation of the cell membrane. As cholesterol can not move in blood freely, it binds to a protein particle forming two main cholesterol types:
- Low- density lipoprotein (LDL) or the bad cholesterol as too much of LDL circulating in your blood may increase your risk for many health problems.
- High- density lipoprotein (HDL) or the good cholesterol as its presence in your body in a specific percentage decrease and even prevent some cardiovascular diseases.
Most cholesterol in the body is synthesized in the liver, while the rest comes from dietary sources such as poultry, meat, margarine, hydrogenated oil, and full-fat dairy products. While cholesterol is particularly important for various body functions, but cholesterol levels should be kept in its healthy range to avoid its hazardous effect.
Normal cholesterol levels
In adult males cholesterol levels should be kept in the following range:
- Total cholesterol should be kept from 125 to 200 mg\dl
- LDL should be less than 100 mg\ dl
- HDL should be more than 40 mg\dl
In adult females cholesterol levels should be kept in the following range:
- Total cholesterol should be kept from 125 mg\dl to 200 mg\dl
- LDL should be less than 100 mg\dl
- HDL should be more than 50 mg\dl
So, what causes the rise of cholesterol levels?
Multiple factors contribute to increasing your cholesterol levels, some of these factors are modifiable such as:
- Unbalanced diet: if you irrationally consume foods rich in saturated fats and cholesterol, you will increase your cholesterol levels.
- Increase your weight: being overweight may increase your risk of hypercholesteremia and thus increase your cardiovascular disease risk. When you lose even 10% of weight, this will decrease your total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL instantly.
- Sedentary lifestyle: physical inactivity is a risk factor for cardiac disease and atherosclerosis. But you can change that immediately, start by walking at least 30 minutes per day and build more on that. Being active may help in decreasing LDL and increase HDL.
Some factors of hypercholesterolemia are not modifiable like:
- Age and sex: although increase cholesterol levels can start early in life due to unhealthy eating habits, aging itself increases cholesterol levels with other factors. Adult males have a higher risk of developing hypercholesterolemia than pre-menopausal females. after menopause both males and females have an equal risk of developing a high level of cholesterol.
- Some medical conditions: some diseases increase the risk of developing high cholesterol levels such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, chronic kidney, and liver diseases.
- Genetic: your genes and family history may affect your cholesterol levels.
Effects of high cholesterol levels
There are no symptoms of high cholesterol levels, and usually, hyperlipidemia or hypercholesterolemia is discovered accidentally during a routine checkup. Prolonged hypercholesterolemia poses a serious risk for developing cardiovascular diseases, peripheral arterial diseases, atherosclerosis, and strokes. To break this cycle, you should start a lifestyle change immediately:
- Add heart-healthy foods to your diet
- Lose your extra weight
- Keep yourself active
Food changes have a great impact on cholesterol levels. A recent study was investigating the link between dietary factors and the risk of coronary heart diseases, concluded that there is a protective effect on the heart of the Mediterranean diet food like vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seafood, and there is a bad effect on the heart of trans-fatty meals, and foods with the high glycemic index.
Here is a list of food that can lower your cholesterol levels:
One of the most important foods to add to your diet when you try to lower your cholesterol. Oats are full of soluble fibers that reduce LDL, the bad cholesterol, without affecting the good cholesterol HDL. These soluble fibers decrease the absorption of cholesterol by binding to it and preventing its reabsorption. According to the American journal of clinical nutrition, adding oats to your meal with other heart-healthy foods has a great effect on cholesterol levels. To have all benefits from fibers, you should have 25 grams of fibers per day. One cup and half oats can provide you with 3 grams of fibers.