Along with smoking and high blood pressure, high cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. Blood cholesterol levels can be lowered through a healthy diet, exercise and medication.
The two main types of cholesterol are high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good cholesterol, and low density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. Some cholesterol is needed by the body, but high levels can be dangerous.
Here’s HDL and LDL in detail, including what makes one good and the other bad, as well as what a person can do to control their levels.
HDL vs LDL Cholesterol
LDL cholesterol is often called bad cholesterol. If there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, it builds up in the walls of blood vessels, causing them to narrow and stiffen. A buildup of LDL cholesterol reduces blood flow and can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
HDL or good cholesterol can move LDL cholesterol from the blood to the liver , which breaks it down to dispose of it as waste. HDL cholesterol is called good cholesterol because it lowers blood cholesterol levels. High HDL is linked to a reduced risk of heart attack and heart disease.
What are the ideal ranges?
Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The Safe Source recommendations for healthy cholesterol levels are as follows:
– Lower total cholesterol level below 2 g/L
– An LDL cholesterol level is considered normal when it is below 1.6 g/l.
– HDL cholesterol must be less than or equal to 2g/l
Ratio between total cholesterol and HDL
The ratio between total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol can help a person know if they are getting enough good cholesterol and limit the sources of bad cholesterol. It can be measured by dividing the total cholesterol by the HDL level. Ideally, the ratio should be less than 4. The lower this number, the healthier a person’s cholesterol level. Total cholesterol fluctuates, so more than one blood test may be needed for an accurate assessment. Levels can change after a meal, so a blood test is sometimes done in the morning before breakfast. The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL is a better marker of heart disease risk than LDL cholesterol alone.
Another method of estimating cholesterol levels is to calculate non-HDL cholesterol levels. It is measured by subtracting HDL cholesterol from total cholesterol. This method is considered more accurate by some doctors because it includes very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) levels in the calculation. Like LDL cholesterol, VLDL cholesterol can also accumulate inside the walls of blood vessels, which is undesirable. Ideally, the non-HDL cholesterol level should be below 130 mg/dL. A value above this number increases the risk of heart disease.
Causes of high LDL cholesterol
Causes high LDL cholesterol include:
– Eating a diet high in saturated fat: Diets high in saturated and hydrogenated fats may increase LDL cholesterol levels.
– Inactivity: Not getting enough exercise can lead to weight gain, which is linked to increased cholesterol levels.
– Obesity: Overweight people have an increased risk of having high cholesterol.
– Smoking: A chemical in cigarettes lowers cholesterol of HDL cholesterol and damages the lining of blood vessels, which can increase the risk of hardening of the arteries.
– Medical conditions: Some of these can affect LDL cholesterol levels, especially diabetes type 2, an underactive thyroid, kidney or liver problems and alcohol dependence.
– Menopause: In some women, cholesterol levels may increase after menopause .
– Genetics: Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an inherited form of high cholesterol that puts people at risk for early heart disease.
How to lower LDL levels
The following lifestyle changes can help lower LDL cholesterol levels:
– maintain a healthy weight
– exercise regularly
– stop smoking
– take a niacin supplement (vitamin B-3).
Some studies have shown that vitamin B-3 can lower LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL. It is important to speak with a doctor before taking niacin supplements.
People trying to lower their LDL cholesterol levels should also avoid consuming saturated and trans fats.
Foods to avoid are:
– cakes, cookies and pastries
– frozen ready meals, such as frozen pizzas
– fried fast foods
– cream-filled sweets
– ice cream
– pre-made breakfast sandwiches
Here are more dietary tips for prevent LDL levels from rising
– Switch fat sources: Replace saturated fats with nut and seed oils or monounsaturated fats from coconut oil. olive, avocado.
– Augm Check your fiber intake: A high-fiber diet is thought to be good for total blood cholesterol levels. The soluble fiber found in fruits, vegetables, and oats is especially beneficial.
– Eat more garlic: Garlic is rich in compounds that may help lower cholesterol blood. The beneficial effects are only felt if garlic is consumed regularly for more than 2 months.
How to increase HDL levels
HDL cholesterol levels can be improved by eating fatty fish, such as mackerel.
A variety of things can improve HDL cholesterol levels, including:
– Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids can lower blood cholesterol when consumed as part of a balanced diet. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish, such as mackerel, trout, herring, sardines, fresh tuna, salmon, and halibut. Studies suggest that eating 2-3 servings of oily fish per week may increase HDL levels in the blood.
– Brightly colored fruits and vegetables: It has been shown to antioxidants in brightly colored fruits and vegetables improve HDL cholesterol levels.
– Regular exercise: Research shows that exercise and physical activity can increase cholesterol levels. HDL.
High LDL cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, but it can often occur without any symptoms. People over years old are recommended to have a blood test to check their cholesterol levels and the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL.
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