Cholesterol is a waxy substance located in the lipids, or fats, in the blood. When cholesterol levels in the blood become elevated, the risk of heart disease increases.
High cholesterol, or hypercholesterolemia, is usually a result of a metabolic dysfunction where the lipoproteins that carry cholesterol molecules in the blood show abnormal levels. Genetic factors, poor dietary choices, and metabolic disorders like diabetes or obesity are major causes of high cholesterol.
A lipid profile test can determine the amount of total cholesterol, “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL), “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglycerides in the blood.
• Total cholesterol >200 mg/dl is desirable; between 200-239 mg/dl is borderline; above 240mg/dl signifies high cholesterol.
• Desirable HDL range is 45-60mg/dl
• LDL levels > 100mg/dl is desirable; above 160mg/dl is considered high
• Triglycerides >150 mg/dl is acceptable
Elevated cholesterol levels lead to plaque formation in the arteries. Over time, plaque buildup narrows the arteries, and the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart and vital organs becomes restricted. A complete blockage of blood flow in the arteries may result in stroke, heart attack, or angina.
To combat high cholesterol, a healthy diet is essential. People wishing to lower cholesterol should:
• Consume less saturated fat and food rich in trans-fatty acids
• Include high cholesterol fighting foods like fish, green vegetables, nuts, whole grains, sprouts, onions, garlic, olive oil, etc.
• Eat more soluble fibre, found in foods like oats, fruits, and beans.
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