Cholesterol is good...But when is it bad?
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Fat is called cholesterol in medical terms. It is actually one of the many essentials for our body. It is very useful and necessary for the body. But when it accumulates in surplus, then it becomes a silent killer. It leads to a lot of problems including heart attack. What is the function of cholesterol? How far is it essential? Why does it accumulate? How to prevent this?, these are some of the things that have to be learnt, to remain healthy:


What does fat do?
It resembles oily substance or wax. It does not dissolve in blood. Lipoproteins carry this fat to all other parts of the body. Fat behaves like the walls of the cells. Fat is essential for production of enzymes that help in digestion of food. It is also essential for production of Vitamin D and hormones. The body produces fat that is essential for it survival, naturally. But fat accumulates in the body through the foods we take. When the sun's rays fall on our body, cholesterol helps to change the light to Vitamin D. That is why cholesterol is essential for the body.

When it crosses the limit?
representational imageOur body is made of millions of cells. Each cell has cholesterol. If it is adequate, there is no problem. When it is in excess, then the problems begin. Extra cholesterol accumulates in the blood vessels, especially arteries. They lose their elasticity and become thick. This condition is called arthrosclerosis. The cholesterol hampers blood circulation. The arteries are contracted and circulation is not smooth. Blood then clots and or leads to swelling, and finally heart attack.

Types of cholesterol
representational imageCholesterol is of two types: LDL and HDL. Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) is bad cholesterol. Though it is not harmful by itself, it becomes dangerous, when it accumulates in surplus. That is why it is bad cholesterol. High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is said to be good cholesterol. If LDL is high, one should understand that the risk of heart diseases and heart attack increases. If HDL is more, the risk is decreased. Cholesterol levels are very important for doctors to detect, if the patient is liable to suffer heart diseases. With this and other symptoms, doctors can come to a conclusion regarding a patient's health. Blood pressure, diabetes, age, smoking, alcohol etc, habits, help in determining risk factor. High cholesterol is caused due to diabetes, liver or kidney diseases, polycystic ovary syndrome, increase in hormone level in pregnant women, inactive thyroid gland and use of certain drugs like steroids.

Changes in food and lifestyle
representational imageCholesterol risk can be reduced by making food and lifestyle changes. There are no external signs, in case of high cholesterol. Food intake should be limited, in case of excess fat. Animal products, meat and cheese intake should be reduced. Some kinds of meats, fatty milk and milk products, chocolates, baked goods, deep fried foods, processed food materials, contain saturated fats. In deep fried or highly processed food, trans fat is present. Many studies have proved that intake of high fibre foods, oats, barley, whole grains, beans, nuts, canola, sunflower oil, fruits like apple, grapes, strawberry, citrus fruits like orange, sweet lime, soya, soya products, fish variety like salman, tuna, sardines, reduces bad cholesterol to a large extent.

Saturated fats
Fats that are derived through food are categorised as saturated, mono saturated, mono unsaturated, poly saturated, poly unsaturated and trans-fat. LDL levels go up, when food with saturated fat is taken in large quantities. Not just that, HDL also comes down. When oils are heated at high temperatures, the fat that is released is called trans-fat. These are also harmful to health. Unsaturated, poly-unsaturated, mono-unsaturated acids are good for health and can be taken.

Physical exercise
representational imageDoctors recommend a routine, daily exercise. At least fast walking for half-an-hour is enough. Instead of sitting in one place for hours together, it is good to get up and walk from time to time. Excess weight should be shed. Even obesity leads to rise in cholesterol levels. Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption. This is essential for long life. If lifestyle changes do not yield results and cholesterol continues to be in high levels, doctors recommend statistic group medicines. Cholesterol comes down with this.

Triglycerides
These are present in our bodies. These are also fats. These grow because we take sugar and grains. Triglycerides levels also increase, when there is less movement in the body, due to habits like smoking and alcohol, or obesity. If the rate of triglycerides is high and HDL levels are low, or LDL levels are high, it should be realised that fat is accumulating in the arteries. It is a sure sign of impending heart attack or stroke.

How much cholesterol?
Healthy people should not consume more than 300 mgms of fat per day. Diabetics and heart patients should make sure that their daily intake of fat is not more than 200 mgms. An egg has 186 mgms of fat. All this is obtained from the yolk alone.

Medical tests
representational imageAmerican doctors recommend that those who are past 20 years, should check their cholesterol levels (lipid profile) One of the readings for tests for cholesterol levels is 'total cholesterol.' It is not anything other than, HDL and LDL combined. If it is 200 mg/dL (milligrams per decilitre) or less, it is good. More than this, up to 240m/dL is considered high. More than this is very high. If LDL cholesterol is 100m/dL, it is good. Even 110-120 is fine. It is high at 130-150 and very high for more than 190. If HDL cholesterol is less than 40 mg/dL, then it is risky. Between 40-60 it is fine. If it is more than 60, there is less risk for heart attack or stroke. The triglyceride rate is considered good, if it is up to 150. Between 249-450 it is high and more than 500 it is very high. Doctors suggest that LDL should be less than 100 for those with heart diseases. Take care that HDL is not less than 45 points.

Function of HDL
HDL will help in transferring excess fat from the cells and arteries, to the liver. The liver than purifies this and sends it back to the cells as energy. That is why HDL is considered as good cholesterol and helpful in maintaining health.
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