Cholesterol! The word itself scares most of the people. But, what exactly is it?

Well, it is a fat like substance that is produced in our body naturally, as it is necessary for proper functioning of our body. But, as everything is dangerous in excess so is the case with cholesterol as it does not travel freely in blood. Instead it is carried by lipoproteins present in our blood.

Types of Cholesterol:

1. HDL

HDL is High Density Lipoprotein. HDL has high level of protein and low level of cholesterol. It is good and is healthy for our heart. It transports LDL and VLDL  (bad cholesterols, cause liver damage) to the liver where they are broken down and are removed from our body.

2. LDL

LDL is Low Density Lipoprotein. LDL has low level of protein and a high level of cholesterol so, it is a bad and is very harmful to our heart. It sticks to the artery walls, narrowing them or even blocking them. Due to blocked arteries heart needs to put more effort to pump the blood which spikes the blood pressure. This in the long run can weaken our heart and can lead to increased risk of heart attack.

3. VLDL

VLDL is very low density lipoprotein and is even harm causing than LDL. It is made up of more number triglycerides (a type of fat). VLDL contains very low lipoprotein.

How to measure:

It can be measured by a blood test. A blood test for cholesterol measures four types of lipids: Total Cholesterol, HDL, LDL and Triglycerides. Range of the four mentioned is given below.

Cholesterol Range Chart for Adults:

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, these are the acceptable, borderline, and high range and triglyceride measurements for adults. All values are in mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).

 TriglyceridesLDL cholesterolHDL cholesterolTotal cholesterol
Lown/an/aless than 40n/a
High200 or higher160 or highern/a240 or higher
Borderline150-199130-159n/a200-239
Goodless than 149less than 10040 or higherless than 200

Cholesterol Range Chart for Adults:

Following are the recommended levels for children according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). All values are in mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).

 TriglyceridesLDL cholesterolHDL cholesterolTotal cholesterol
Lown/an/aless than 40n/a
High100 or more in children(from 0-9); 130 or more in children(from 10-19)greater in 130n/a200 or higher
Borderline75-99 in children(from 0-9): 90-129 in children(from 10-19)110-12940-45170-199
Goodless than 75 in children( from 0-9); less than 90 in children(from 10-19)110 or less45 or higher170 or less

 Effects of High Cholesterol:

  • Plaque: High levels can lead lead to plaque. Plaque is formed when cholesterol combines with blood and blocks the walls of arteries by sticking to them. Plaque can narrow your arteries and even block them completely which can be detrimental.
  • Blockage of brain
  • Heart Attack
  • Jaw pain
  • Less blood supply to legs
  • Gallstones: Cholesterol is necessary for bile production. Bile is a substance that breaks down food and help in absorbing nutrients from intestine. Too much cholesterol in bile can form crystals which ultimately leads to stones in gall bladder.

Ways to reduce Cholesterol:

  • Healthy Diet: Choose healthier fats. Try avoiding saturated fats found in meat and dairy products as they tend to raise LDL. Stay away from trans fat, present processed foods like fried foods, snacks etc., as it leads to an increased level of LDL.
  • Omega-3: Add omega-3 fat in your diet as it raises HDL. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids are almonds, flax seeds, walnuts etc.
  • Physical Exercise: Physical exercise can work wonders in reducing LDL levels. A good 30 min workout everyday will keep your heart healthy and keep cholesterol related problems at bay.
  • Smoking and Alcohol: Smoking and alcohol also increases LDL levels. Quitting smoking can considerably raise HDL levels.

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