Cholesterol is essential for life. It enables your body to construct new cells, protect nerve cells, and regulate hormone production. Typically, the liver makes all the cholesterol the body needs.
Moreover, cholesterol is also used up by the body when consumed via foods like enters dairy milk, eggs, and meat. However, much like all aspects of life, excess of everything is bad!
Excess cholesterol in your body is a risk factor for heart disease. Good news is that by maintaining healthy habits and good lipid (fat) levels, you can lower the risk of heart related diseases.
Check out our cholesterol 101 guide on important tidbits on how to monitor and improve your lipid levels!
Understanding Lipid Levels And Cholesterol:
The least complex approach to check lipid profile and lower your risk is through lipid testing. A complete cholesterol profiling test is done to determine if your cholesterol level and consequently, the risk of developing heart disease, is high.
Your total cholesterol level gives a rough estimate of heart disease risk. Cholesterol is transported through the circulatory system by lipoproteins (lipids attached to protein molecules) carriers.
Total cholesterol level incorporates the measure of cholesterol conveyed by HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density ipoprotein), and in addition, a little amount conveyed by low-density lipoprotein.
This estimation, however, does not give a particular value for every lipoprotein. The cholesterol profiling test is utilized to screen for heart disease risk or to examine general progress in those on a special diet or medication for high cholesterol.
Must Know What’s Your Cholesterol Level:
- Desirable: lower than 240 mg/dl
- Borderline high: 200-239 mg/dl
- High-risk: higher than 240 mg/dl
HDL cholesterol levels are generally associated with lower risk for heart disease. It takes excess cholesterol away from heart arteries. That’s why HDL cholesterol is known as “good cholesterol”. It is better for you to have high HDL cholesterol level.
- Desirable: higher than 35 mg/dl
As opposed to HDL cholesterol, LDL is known as bad cholesterol because high LDL in the blood is associated with blockage of heart arteries. LDL is calculated in those who have high-risk factors for heart disease or have a high cholesterol level.
- Desirable: less than 130 mg/dl
- Borderline: 130-1159 mg/dl
- High-risk: higher than mg/dl
Lipids that help store fat in the body are called triglycerides. High inflammation in pancreas can be caused by high glyceride levels. High levels of triglycerides may play a role in heart disease risk.
- Desirable: lower than 250 mg/dl
How To Improve Lipid Profile?
If your cholesterol profiling yielded some alarming result, do not write yourself off. You can adopt a few habits to improve your lipid profile which may help you to reduce heart disease risk as well.
1- Avoid Smoking:
Smoking is injurious to health and in itself is a major risk factor of heart disease. Furthermore, it lowers your HDL (good cholesterol level). Nicotine in cigarettes helps raise blood pressure and produces blood clots and is a major chemical that contributes to heart disease.
2- Take Low-Fat Diet:
You have to change the way you eat to deter the risk of heart disease. Low-fat food and low-cholesterol diet helps you to maintain a healthy lipid level. Low-fat diet includes green, leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach alongside others like onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumber, cauliflower; these are the perfect low-fat foods as they contain little to no fats!
Also, make sure your diet has more amount of high density or ‘good’ cholesterol as opposed to the low-density cholesterol that is really bad for your heart. Hence, use vegetable oils like olive or sunflower oil for cooking.
Avoid fatty cheeses, butter and cream etc. as these ingredients are rich in LDL which needs to be avoided.
3- Reduce Weight:
Obesity or even being overweight puts a lot of strain on the heart, and it has to work extra hard to pump blood to the rest of the body. This situation is aggravated more so due to ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Therefore, to protect yourself from heart related illnesses, reducing weight is imperative. Try taking a balanced diet enriched with good fruits and vegetables like radish, celery, bell peppers, strawberries etc. Also, decrease or moderate, at the very least, the intake of red meat.
Also, weight loss is impossible without getting adequate physical activity. Start off light and then push yourself to shed off the extra weight.
4- Get Some Exercise:
Try to stay active and get some exercise. You can consult with a doctor for suitable exercise plan in order to have maximum benefit from it whilst staying safe. An active and healthy lifestyle helps keep your lipid levels under control.
5- Take soluble fiber
You should also try adding soluble fiber to your diet as well. Psyllium husk and chia seeds are some example of soluble fiber that can be taken prior to eating once or twice a day. It helps prevent the absorption of fat and so is great to improve the lipid profile.
6- Reduce sugar intake
Sugary foods act as catalyst in weight gain and thereby endanger the health of the heart. Moreover, they also increase the triglyceride levels- lipid or fat found in the blood. Higher levels also contribute towards heart diseases, thus limiting sugar intake in all forms like sweet jams or cola drinks etc. is required for a better lipid profile.
However, certain instances may still require medical intervention. Thus, to rule out anything dangerous and get expert opinion, contact a medical professional. You can find and book an appointment with the best Cardiologist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your heart-health concerns.