Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in all the cells inside the body. It travels through your bloodstream linked with proteins called lipoproteins. Cholesterol doesn’t dissolve in water and it is packed with proteins in such way that the cholesterol matter makes the center while the protein water-soluble portion surrounds it. They have several functions in the body, including hormones and vitamins, where the vitamin K, A, D and E are liposoluble vitamins. If any of the ongoing events in the body prevent proper cholesterol digestion and transition through the system, it can cause hormone or immune deficiency.
Types Of Cholesterol And Lipoproteins
There are a few types of cholesterol that travel within our blood stream. There are LDL, HDL, IDL and VLDL, and lastly chylomicrons.
LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein). It is considered to be a “BAD” cholesterol. It is a thick kind of cholesterol that can merge within the lining of the vessels, causing atherosclerosis. There are two types of LDL-cholesterol that are linked with atherosclerosis. These include small, dense LDL (sdLDL) and oxidized LDL (oxLDL). With the deposition of the LDL and creating plaque, it can narrow the diameter of the blood vessel and cause coronary heart disease or stroke. It creates a hard clot inside the vessel making it rigid and less elastic. It can affect other arteries as well, such as kidney vessels or vessels inside the legs.
HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein). This is the “GOOD” cholesterol. It has the role of cholesterol circulation where they pick up the leftovers from LDL cholesterol through the circulation and bring it to the liver, where it breaks down to its basic ingredients where it is used again for synthesis. It is made in the liver and intestines. They have a high percent of protein and low percent of fat, which makes them dense and heavy. The higher the level of HDL, the lower the risk of coronary heart disease.
VLDL (Very Low-Density Lipoprotein). These are the types of cholesterol that are made inside the liver. They are rich in triglycerides and they are endogenous cholesterol. VLDL also has a big influence on creating plaque inside the vessels, so by reducing the triglyceride ingestion, you will lower the risk of coronary heart disease.
IDL (Intermediate Density Lipoprotein). They are fat particles that form from VLDL degradation. They are the part of fat transport through blood, which encloses the cholesterol circle. Their percentage of fat is between LDL and VLDL with the less dense particle.
Chylomicrons. They represent the particles of fat and protein which is being ingested into the body. They are small globulins which travel the blood and lymph vessels to the liver where it is used as a fat source. It has a milky texture and it can give the blood that cluttered look after a meal. They represent an exogenous source of triglycerides.
When you think of cholesterol, you always aim for the lower concentration, but when it comes to HDL, it is recommended to have the higher number. The normal range of HDL cholesterol for adults is 60 mg/dL (1.6 mmol/L) or above. It lowers the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and other artery diseases. If you have less than 40 mg/dL, you are at risk. Framingham Heart Study shows that risk increases about 25% with a drop of 5 mg/dl (0.13 mmol/L) of HDL.
You should check your lipid profile every five years when over 20 years old. Elderly have a higher risk of high cholesterol levels, so they should check-up more often.
How to Raise HDL Level?
The key to HDL modification is the lifestyle.
Avoid Smoking. If you suffer from low levels of HDL, you should avoid smoking since it decreases the level of the “good” cholesterol and increases the chance of coronary heart disease.
Aerobic Exercise. Including everyday activity in your lifestyle can increase the levels of HDL. The most effective way of raising the level of HDL is including frequent low-intensity exercises that last about 30-40 minutes about 5 times a week. It will trigger the HDL peak.
Keep A Healthy Weight. Reducing the risk of obesity, you will also influence on the levels of cholesterol and thereby reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Limit Alcohol Intake. Moderate alcohol consumption can increase the HDL-cholesterol levels, but it is not recommended for this kind of purpose since it can have more downsides to it.
Dietary Choices. You should cut out any trans fat, although it is represented in the preparation of food all around the globe. You should eat green organic food with a lot of vegetables and fibers. You can eat monounsaturated fats like avocado, olive and canola oil. There is also some healthy replacement like legumes, nuts, oats and fruit. You can include omega-3 fatty acids which are very healthy and can help with cholesterol levels.
Limit The Intake Of Carbohydrates. If you suffer from obesity, limiting the intake of carbohydrates can decrease the levels of lipoproteins including triglycerides and cholesterol, and by that, help with obtaining the weight and losing any extra pound.
Medications. Some conditions include drugs for lowering lipid levels. They are called statins. There are other medications that affect the level of the HDL, which is niacin and fibrates, but they do not affect the risk of coronary heart disease.
For coronary heart disease not only affects the level of HDL. The people who have normal levels of HDL can also suffer from coronary heart diseases. If you have abnormal levels of lipids, you should test lipid profile more often in the case of preventing any complications and for the purpose of monitoring moderation lifestyle habits. If you have a family case of high cholesterol, you should do more check-ups and take care of the diet and activities. It can be genetics related.