Cholesterol is a natural fatty substance found in all human cells, necessary for normal body function. Most cholesterol is produced in the liver, but is also obtained through certain foods.
Involved in the formation of vital bile acids for digestion of fats. Sunlight transforms into vitamin D to protect the skin from chemicals and avoid dehydration. From it certain hormones, such as sex and thyroid, are formed.
Types of cholesterol:
Blood drives cholesterol from the intestine or the liver to the organs that need it and does joining particles called lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): are responsible for transporting cholesterol from the liver back to all the cells of our body.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL): cholesterol collect unused and back to the liver for storage abroad or excretion through bile.
According to this interaction we can define two types of cholesterol:
- ‘Bad’ cholesterol: cholesterol join with LDL particle is deposited on the wall of the arteries and form atherosclerotic plaques.
- ‘Good’ cholesterol: cholesterol join HDL particle, carries excess cholesterol back to the liver to be destroyed.
If your blood levels are elevated, produce hypercholesterolemia. It is proven that people with high blood cholesterol levels of 240 have twice the risk of having a heart attack than those with numbers 200 or lower.
When cells are unable to absorb all of the cholesterol circulating in the blood, the excess is deposited on the wall of the artery and contributes to progressive narrowing causing atherosclerosis.
If a ateromatosis patient keeps very low levels of blood cholesterol, he can get that blood cholesterol wall, pass again into the blood and there is eliminated. Therefore, is recommended to patients who have suffered heart attack or stroke, keep very low cholesterol levels to try and clean their arteries.
Hypercholesterolemia and dyslipidemia:
Hypercholesterolemia not always shows physical signs or symptoms, so diagnosis can only be done by a blood test to determine cholesterol and triglycerides. It is desirable that people with risk for dyslipidemia (alteration of normal levels of these fats), who have relatives with ischemic heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, are made subject of this test at an early age.
Normal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides:
- Total cholesterol:
Normal: less than 200 mg / dl
Normal-high: between 200 and 240 mg / dl. Hypercholesterolemia, is considered to higher levels of total cholesterol 200 mg / dl.
High: above 240 mg / dl
- LDL cholesterol:
Normal: less than 100 mg / dl
Normal-high: 100 to 160 mg / dl
High: above 160 mg / dl
NOTE: This recommendation does not mean that the normal number of LDL should be around 100 mg / dl. In some cases, the desirable level of LDL may be even lower than 70 mg / dl.
- HDL cholesterol
Normal: above 35 mg / dl in men and 40 mg / dl in women
Normal: less than 150 mg / dl
Normal-high: between 100 and 500 mg / dl. Hypertriglyceridemia, is considered to higher levels of triglycerides 150-200 mg / dl.
High: above 500 mg / dl.
Treatment and prevention to reduce or maintain low levels of cholesterol
Hypercholesterolemia can be prevented and reduced by following the following recommendations:
With a balanced diet and without saturated fat it could be reduced or prevented. The Mediterranean diet is ideal because their fat intake comes mainly from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated found in fish and olive oils and seed fatty acids.
- Reduce consumption of fats and meats; organ meats, processed meats, including sausages, salami, mortadella, pepperoni; cow's milk and ice cream; fried foods, butter, lard and animal fats.
- It is also important consumption of vegetables, legumes, cereals, vegetables and fruits.
- Eat soluble fiber: that found in oats, apples, beans, peaches, plums, bananas and broccoli, help to reduce cholesterol absorption in the intestines. Eating 10 or more grams a day of fiber, such as: 2 plates of oatmeal or peaches or bananas.
- Nuts: Studies show that walnuts and almonds can have a significant effect on the level of LDL ( "bad" cholesterol). Two ounces (about a handful) daily is what is required.
- Fatty acids omega-3: omega-3 from fish can cause a drop in cholesterol. The omega-3 from flaxseed oil is highly recommended
- Cook with olive oil: Change the cooking oil, for olive oil helps lower LDL cholesterol without affecting HDL (or "good" cholesterol).
- Fortified foods: plant-derived compounds called sterols, inhibit the absorption of cholesterol. Several products fortified with these supplements, contain some products in the supermarket as orange juice or yogurt.
- Lose weight: One of the best recommendations to lower cholesterol it is to lose extra pounds. Cut only 10 pounds is often enough to produce positive results.
- Quit smoking: Quitting the vice and increase HDL cholesterol, is a good start.
- Consult your doctor. It is important to seek medical advice to recommend the necessary measures for each particular case and determine whether the use of medications is needed.
- Making a program of aerobic exercise: walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, etc. to moderate intensity (65-70 percent of maximum heart rate) and developed on a regular basis (three to five sessions per week) increases HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Once diagnosed dyslipidemia, and if diet and exercise fail to lower levels on their own, the doctor will opt for drug treatment. The choice of drugs depends on the dominant anomaly: elevated LDL (bad cholesterol); elevated triglycerides, or high levels in both cases.
Cholesterol in children:
More and more cases among children or young people due to incorrect diet and sedentary lifestyle become serious candidates to suffer from hypercholesterolemia in the future. Overall, these the numbers should be cholesterol for children and adolescents:
Normal: less than 170 mg / dl
Normal-high: between 170 and 199 mg / dl
High: above 200 mg / dl
Cholesterol in Women:
During pregnancy it is usually normal that women suffer an alteration of lipid levels in the blood. Pregnant women should control their cholesterol levels and extreme care if they are patients with previous hyperlipidemia.
During menopause alterations in the lipoprotein pattern related to the decline of estrogen: lowers HDL (good cholesterol) and increase total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol). Doctors recommend hormone replacement therapy (estrogen and progesterone) hormone therapy or estrogen. Both treatments reduce the usual discomforts of menopause and prevent osteoporosis. And sometimes, they may also slightly raise HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce total cholesterol.
Cholesterol and other risk factors
Cholesterol and Diabetes: Diabetes (type I and type II) can increase cholesterol levels. In fact, desirable cholesterol levels in diabetics are lower than in the general population.
Cholesterol and Obesity: Obese patients often have hypertriglyceridemia and low HDL (good cholesterol). Weight loss results in increased HDL levels, reducing triglyceride levels, better glucose tolerance, decreasing insulin levels and uric acid, and low blood pressure.
Cholesterol and Sedentariness: Exercise is one of the general recommendations for the treatment and prevention of hypercholesterolemia. Among the positive effects of exercise on the body it emphasizes improving lung capacity, the cardiovascular system and cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Cholesterol and Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption causes hypertriglyceridemia.