The human body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells however, do you know that too much of it can also affect your body adversely? In today’s post, we will delve deeper into this topic to understand how cholesterol works for your body and what should you do to keep it in check and maintain healthy body fat.
Understand the role of cholesterol in your body
Cholesterol is a wax-like substance present in your blood. The human body requires it for building healthy cells however high levels of it will increase your risks of heart disease. Also known as high cholesterol, you develop fatty deposits in the blood vessel that grow making it hard for sufficient blood to flow freely through the arteries. At times, these deposits break and form a clot that results in a stroke or a heart attack.
High cholesterol is inherited and caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices making it treatable and preventable. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and medication helps you to reduce high cholesterol as well.
What are lipoproteins?
Cholesterol passes through your blood on proteins that are known as lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol through the body and they are-
- LDL- Low density lipoprotein, also known as bad cholesterol- High levels of LDL cholesterol raises the risks for stroke and heart disease immensely.
- HDL- High-density lipoprotein or good cholesterol- This absorbs the cholesterol and carries it back to your liver that flushes it out from the body. High levels of this cholesterol reduce the risks of stroke and heart disease in your body.
When the body has a lot of LDL cholesterol, it builds on the walls of the blood vessels. This is called plaque. As the blood vessels build plaque with time, the insides of the vessels narrow down and the blood flows to the heart as well as other organs. When the blood flow to your heart is blocked, it results in a heart attack or a chest pain (angina)
Reducing the risks
If you have very high LDL cholesterol levels, the healthcare team might recommend lifestyle changes and medicines for reducing your risks for stroke and heart disease. If you have low HDL levels of cholesterol, speak to your doctor about changes in the lifestyle that might aid you in raising awareness.
When and how should you get your cholesterol checked?
It is important for you to get your cholesterol levels checked for staying healthy. High levels increases the risks for stroke and heart disease that are two primary causes of death in the USA.
Knowing the status of your cholesterol levels helps you to remain in control of your overall health. This is why it is important for you to be aware of its screening and its importance. Note high levels of cholesterol does not display any symptoms and this is why getting their levels checked is very important.
Things to do to boost cholesterol levels
There are several things you can to boost your cholesterol levels to keep them in a healthy range-
- Examinations– Get tested for at least every five years unless you are otherwise instructed by your doctor. You should know more about cholesterol screenings.
- Make healthy food choices– Reduce foods that are high in saturated fats. Choose food items that are rich in fiber naturally with unsaturated fats. Know more about healthy diet and nutrition from the CDC nutrition, physical activity and obesity website.
- Stay active daily– The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggests that adults that get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise or physical activity every week can keep their levels under control.
- Do not smoke or use products with tobacco– Smoking damages your blood vessels and accelerates the hardening of your arteries. This highly boosts the risks for heart disease. If you do not smoke, do not start it. In case, you do smoke, quitting cigarettes will reduce the risks of heart disease. You should learn more about the use of tobacco and ways to stop smoking from the CDC’s smoking and tobacco use official website.
- Managing cholesterol– Speak to your healthcare provider about the ways to manage cholesterol. If any medicines are prescribed to you for its management, take them as instructed.
- Be aware of your family history– If your parents or other immediate relatives have high cholesterol, you probably should be tested often. You might have a health condition known as familial hypercholesterolemia or FH. Individuals with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) or people with high levels of bad cholesterol, if left untreated, might suffer from the risks of heart attack, heart disease and stroke at a very young age.
Last but not the least, you should always speak to your healthcare provider about the ways to manage your cholesterol levels. Keep the above tips in mind, stay happy and healthy in life!