Cholesterol: What Is It And How Can I Manage It?

Introduction

The heart is one of the body’s most vital organs. For it to perform its function, the network of blood vessels that it uses must be kept clear of blockages, and to prevent these from getting stopped up, our cholesterol levels need to be carefully managed. In this article, we’ll learn how to manage cholesterol naturally, along with what some of the risk factors are for failing to do so. But first, what is cholesterol anyway?

What is Cholesterol?

A waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver, and found in the blood and in all cells of the body. Cholesterol is important for good health and is needed for making cell walls, tissues, hormones, vitamin D, and bile acid. Cholesterol also comes from eating foods taken from animals such as egg yolks, meat, and whole-milk dairy products. Too much cholesterol in the blood may build up in blood vessel walls, block blood flow to tissues and organs, and increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

What are the different types of cholesterol?

There are two main types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is the “bad” type of cholesterol because it can build up in your arteries and form plaque. This can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other problems. HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is the “good” type of cholesterol because it helps remove LDL from your arteries and prevents plaque from forming.

What is the good cholesterol level?

On its own, cholesterol is neither good nor bad. It’s just a natural byproduct of our body’s functions. However, having an imbalance between the kinds of cholesterol in our bodies can result in a number of health complications down the road. According to most doctors, the ideal levels for each of these kinds of cholesterol are as follows:

 

  • Total cholesterol – Total cholesterol levels should be less than 200 mg/dl for healthy adults. Readings of 200–239 mg/dl are considered borderline on the high side, while readings of more than 240 mg/dl are high.
  • LDL cholesterol – The “bad cholesterol”, LDL levels should always be below 100 mg/dl in healthy adults. At levels between 100 and 129 mg/dl, doctors may not be too concerned, especially for people with no other comorbidities. However, they may recommend some form of preventive treatment at this stage, and will definitely suggest treatment for people with heart disease or its risk factors. A reading of borderline high is 130-159 mg/dL, and 160-189 mg/dL are considered high. Any reading in excess of 190 is considered very high.
  • HDL cholesterol – Responsible for sending LDL back to the liver for elimination, HDL is considered the good cholesterol and its presence in the body should be encouraged. Doctors recommend a level of at least 40 mg/dL to prevent further health complications. Readings of less than 60 mg/dL are considered borderline low, while any reading above 60 mg/dL is optimal.

 

You can learn more about how our doctors can help you manage your cholesterol levels 

What can I do to learn how to manage cholesterol naturally?

If cholesterol levels aren’t managed well, health complications, some of which may be life-altering, may follow. To continue to remain healthy while still enjoying a full life, follow these tips. 

 

  1. Avoid cholesterol-raising foods. Making some smart changes to your diet can go a long way towards establishing healthy cholesterol levels. This includes reducing the intake of saturated fats, such as those found in full-fat dairy products and red meat. Reducing the consumption of what’s known as trans fats will also help in lowering overall cholesterol levels. These fats, referred to as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on most food packaging, are present in many processed items, as well as margarine.
  2. Consume more soluble fiber. This reduces absorption of some of the cholesterol, and is present in many forms of grains such as oatmeal and flaxseed.
  3. Choose foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Foods like certain kinds of fish have heart-fortifying benefits, such as lowering blood pressure.
  4. Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol has multiple effects on both liver function and cholesterol levels. Excessive consumption of alcohol can result in chronic liver disease which can limit healthy liver function and raise cholesterol levels. 
  5. Eliminate smoking. Quitting tobacco can raise HDL levels almost immediately.
  6. Get regular exercise. Engaging in regular exercise raises the heart rate and circulation. This in turn speeds up the rate that HDL returns LDL to the liver for elimination from the body. With your doctor’s approval, try to aim for vigorous exercise for about 30 minutes around five times a week.

 

If after doing all of these, cholesterol levels are still at unhealthy readings, then maybe it’s time to talk to a specialist. Learn a bit about how EVA works to get started.

foods for how to manage cholesterol naturally

What are the risks of not learning how to manage cholesterol naturally?

Neglecting to care for one’s heart and its associated systems can result in a host of potentially life-threatening illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that around 17.9 million people die annually from cardiovascular diseases, 85% of which manifest as heart attack or stroke. Cardiovascular disease can come in several forms, including:

 

  • Heart attack – The heart is responsible for pushing blood to, and pulling it from, the various parts of the body, including itself. When blockages and plaque prevent healthy blood from flowing through the heart, it is unable to function correctly, resulting in a heart attack.
  • Stroke – Strokes are very similar to heart attacks in that they are caused by blockages in the blood vessels. However, in a stroke, the blockage occurs in the blood vessels of the brain, preventing certain parts of the brain from receiving nutrients and oxygen and eliminating carbon dioxide. 

How EVA Teleconsult Can Help with Learning How to Manage Cholesterol Naturally?

EVA Teleconsult has doctors on staff who can help with management of a host of chronic conditions, including high cholesterol. That’s because with us, our patients can always expect:

  • Timely appointments – No more time wasted while waiting outside a doctor’s office. With us, appointments begin right when they’re supposed to, even if they’re made the same day.
  • Guaranteed 30-minute consultation times – No more rushing or quickly dashed off prescriptions with no explanations. Our doctors take the time needed to give you information about your concerns, and are open to answering all your questions.
  • 5-star ratings for our doctors – Because our doctors know how to explain things in a way patients can understand, we frequently get positive feedback from them.
 

To learn more about our teleconsultation services, head over to our FAQs.

 

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