ABOUT CHOLESTEROL

What is cholesterol?

 

Cholesterol is a fatty and waxy substance found in our blood. It is an essential molecule that is vital for human life. Cholesterol plays various important roles that contribute to the normal functioning of the cells. For example, it is an essential component of the cell membrane. However, high levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases.

About Cholesterol

Cholesterol is transported in your blood by proteins. It combines with proteins to form lipoprotein. There four types of lipoprotein. They include;

High-density lipoprotein is also known as good cholesterol. It carries away cholesterol from the cells back to the liver. After carrying the cholesterol to the liver, HDL moves from the body as a waste product. Having higher levels of in the body HDL is better.

Intermediate-density lipoprotein is responsible for carrying cholesterol; from the liver into the blood for transport fatty acid utilizing tissues.

Low-density lipoprotein carries cholesterol to the cells that are needed. Too much LDL is dangerous as it can build up in artery walls, leading to disease of the arteries. For this reason, LDL is known as bad cholesterol.

Very low-density lipoprotein is responsible for carrying fats synthesized in the liver and intestines to the adipose tissue and muscle.

 

Functions of Cholesterol

Cholesterol contributes to the structural makeup of the cell membrane. It sits between phospholipids.

Cholesterol makes the cell membrane less permeable to very tiny water-soluble therefore regulating movements of substances in and out of the cell.

Cholesterol helps in the synthesis of Vitamin, steroid hormones (e.g., cortisol, aldosterone, and adrenal androgens), and sex hormones (e.g., estrogens, testosterone, and progesterone)

Cholesterol is a constituent of bile salt used in digestion to aid the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

What are the sources of cholesterol?

Sources of Cholesterol include; the liver and the diet. Your body makes all the cholesterol that it needs. Sources of cholesterol from the diet are meat, egg yolk, and cheese.

 

What causes high cholesterol?

The leading cause of elevated cholesterol levels in the body is an unhealthy lifestyle. These can include;

Unhealthy eating habits such as the consumption of bad fats are harmful to one’s health. These bad fats are saturated fats and trans-fats found in processed and deep-fried foods. When we eat these bad fats, they increase the levels of bad cholesterol called Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL)

A sedentary lifestyle. An inactive lifestyle lowers the level of good cholesterol called High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL). Research suggests that increased physical activity improves HDL functions.

Smoking is associated with low levels of HDL cholesterol. Cigarette smoking can alter the critical enzymes of lipid transport.

Having diabetes or high blood pressure

Having a family history of stroke or heart disease

 

Dangers of having high cholesterol levels

Research corroborates that elevated cholesterol levels can increase the risk of

Narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis)

Heart attack

Stroke

Transient Ischemic attack (Mini stroke)

Peripheral arterial attack (PAD)

When cholesterol builds up in the artery wall, restricting the blood flow to the heart, brain, and the rest of the body. Also, there is an increased risk of a blood clot developing somewhere in the body.

How to lower cholesterol levels

One of the ways of lowering cholesterol is to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Consider keeping a diet low in fatty food.

Replace food containing saturated fat for fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals.

Adopt lifestyle changes like increasing physical activity levels and giving up smoking.

Sometimes the cholesterol-lowering medication is prescribed to help reduce cholesterol. However, the benefits of the treatment must outweigh any risks.

 

Foods with low cholesterol

Changing what you eat can effectively reduce cholesterol levels. The goal of the foods should be to lower LDL, the bad cholesterol. Various foods lower cholesterol in many ways. Certain foods provide soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before getting into circulation.

Other foods give you polyunsaturated fats, which lower LDL. And, some contain plant sterols and stanols that block the body from absorbing cholesterol.

 

Changing what you eat can effectively reduce cholesterol levels. The goal of the foods should be to lower LDL, the bad cholesterol. Various foods lower cholesterol in many ways. Certain foods provide soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before getting into circulation.

Other foods give you polyunsaturated fats, which lower LDL. And, some contain plant sterols and stanols that block the body from absorbing cholesterol.

 

 

  1. Oats. One simple way of lowering cholesterol is consuming a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Oats will give you between 1-2 grams of soluble fiber. Adding fruits like banana or some strawberries for another half a gram. The current nutrition guidelines recommend having between 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day, with a minimum of 5 to 10 grams from soluble fiber.
  2. Barley and other whole grains, barley, wheat, rice maize, and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver.
  3. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. There so many varieties — from butterbeans and kidney beans to lentils, green grams, black-eyed peas, and a lot more.
  4. Eggplant and okra. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.
  1. Many studies show that eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts are beneficial for the heart. Eating a handful of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in various ways.
  1. Vegetable oils. Using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening when cooking or at the table helps lower LDL.
  1. Apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits are rich in pectin, a soluble fiber that lowers LDL.
  1. Foods fortified with sterols and stanols. Sterols and stanols extracted from plants increase the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Companies are adding them to foods ranging from margarine and granola bars to orange juice and chocolate. They’re also available as supplements. Getting 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%.
  1. Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, was once hyped as a powerful way to lower cholesterol. Analyses show that the effect is more modest — consuming 25 grams of soy protein a day can lower LDL by 5% to 6%.
  1. Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL. Either by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, or by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 oils. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream.
  1. Fiber supplements. Supplements offer the least appealing way to get soluble fiber. Two teaspoons a day of fiber supplements provide about 4 grams of soluble fiber.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *