CHOLESTEROL AND YOUR HEALTH

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By
Gabriel Oyemike
We
hear of the word ‘Cholesterol’ and very often think of it as something harmful
to the human body in general, primarily because of its sinister association
with several debilitating cardiovascular diseases.
However,
this isn’t exactly so, to be honest,
Cholesterol is essential
for our bodies to work – it is vital to ensure the body’s normal function.
For starters, Cholesterol is a
natural substance found in foods. It can also be created by our bodies (in the
liver or intestines) and moves in form of a waxy steroid of fat (see below.)
Although
cholesterol is important and necessary for humans, high levels of cholesterol
in the blood can damage arteries and are potentially linked to cardiovascular
diseases like heart attack and stroke.
This happens when the amount of cholesterol in our diet plus the
natural cholesterol made inside the body add up to levels that are too high.
When there’s too
much cholesterol in the blood, it deposits inside the arteries, this is a
serious problem because over time
this
causes narrowing of the arteries, which in turn restricts the flow of blood to
vital organs. If the blocked blood vessel is in your brain, it can lead to a
stroke, if it happens in the coronary artery, it can lead to a heart attack.
How Cholesterol
Levels are Determined.

Unfortunately, there are no signs or symptoms of high cholesterol, so the only
way to know if it is high or not is by getting it checked. This is done by
means of a blood test.

Total Cholesterol Levels:
Total Cholesterol is the sum of the amount of LDL and HDL (see below) in the
blood stream.

 

Cholesterol Range
Classification
Remarks
Less Than 200
Good
Low risk of coronary heart disease
200-239
Borderline High
Possibility of development of heart disease
240 and Above
High
Double the risk of coronary heart disease than those in the normal
range

Types of Cholesterol: there are three types-

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): often known as bad cholesterol – this
carries cholesterol around the body and can deposit it in the artery walls.
 
 
Cholesterol Range
Classification
Less Than 100
Excellent
100-129
Good
130-159
Borderline High
160-189
High
190 and Above
Very High
High-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as good cholesterol – this takes
cholesterol away from the walls of the blood vessels to the liver, where it’s
either broken down or excreted.
It prevents the formation of LDL and prevents it from affecting
the arteries and the heart.
Cholesterol Range
Classification
Remarks
60 and Above
Good
Protective against coronary heart disease
Less than 50 (for
women)
High Risk
Possibility of development of heart disease
Less than 40
High Risk
Possibility of development of heart disease
Triglycerides:  is also referred to as’
bad cholesterol’
as it contains the highest amount of blood fat; normally
found in dairy products, cooking oils, and red meat.
How do I raise my good Cholesterol
levels?
Genetics, lifestyle
and diet are the main culprits of high cholesterol. You can’t do anything about
your genes, but you can control your lifestyle and diet, and with the right
modifications, you can prevent or even reverse high cholesterol.
To maintain a healthy
cholesterol level, you need to raise your HDL levels while lowering your LDL
levels.
To increase HDL
and lower LDL:
  • Choose
    the better fat & cut down on carbohydrates.
  • Exercise
  • Lose weight.
  • Cut
    back on eating red meat and frying.
  • Feast
    on cold-water fish.
  • Increase
    intake of fruits, vegetables and fibres.
  • Add nuts and
    grains:
  • Break
    the Tobacco habit
  • If you must drink alcohol, do so in
    moderation and go for red wine
Who should have a cholesterol test?

·        
Anyone with a
history of cardiovascular problem or stroke.

·        
Family history of
early heart diseases (before 55) should have their cholesterol measured.

·        
Anyone aged 35 or
over should consider having their cholesterol measured if they have one or more
of the following risk factors family history of early heart disease, diabetes,
and high blood pressure or if they smoke.

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