Cholesterol is the fat-like substance, which is an important ingredient for life. The human body contains about 100 g of cholesterol. The human body itself manufactures its required cholesterol, and any cholesterol that comes from diet is extra — and it’s harmful.

Benefits of body cholesterol –

Most of the cholesterol in the body is included in the membranes from which cells formation takes place. It is also the starting ingredient for the synthesis of the steroid hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, cortisol and mineralocorticoids.

Cholesterol is also the originator from which the body synthesizes Vitamin D.

Cholesterol helps in the synthesis of bile acids in the liver. This is required for the absorption of fat from the contents of the intestine. The liver synthesizes about 1500 – 2000 mg of new cholesterol each day, from the products of fat metabolism.

What is high blood cholesterol? Is it risky?

High blood cholesterol termed as hypercholesterolemia is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and some types of stroke. Too much cholesterol in the blood leads to development of fatty deposits in the blood vessels that supply the heart and other parts of the body. These deposits make it difficult for enough blood to flow through the arteries, and the heart may not get as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs, which increases the chances of a heart attack

(atherosclerosis). Decreased blood flow to the brain can also cause a cerebral stroke.

Healthy levels of cholesterol –

A person’s total blood cholesterol will fall into any one of these categories:

1) Desirable — Less than 200 mg/dL

2) Borderline high risk — 200-239 mg/dL

3) High risk — 240 mg/dL and over – risk of developing coronary heart disease.

What is HDL and LDL?

Cholesterol is transported through the blood attached to proteins, known as lipoprotein. The two main types of lipoproteins are:

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – “bad” cholesterol that builds up in the walls of the arteries, making them hard and narrow.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – “good” cholesterol that picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to the liver.

Total cholesterol is the sum of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and 20% of the triglyceride value.

It is important to be aware of the fact that –

1 high LDL values are bad – higher the chance of getting a heart disease

2 high HDL values are good – lower the chance of getting a heart disease.

Thus, cardiac risk ratio for an individual = total cholesterol divided by HDL cholesterol

A cardiac risk ratio greater than 7 is a danger sign.

What factors cause a high LDL and low HDL level in the body?

1) Unhealthy lifestyle habits of an individual such as lack of physical activity, being overweight.

2) Faulty eating habits. High intake of saturated fats, animal protein, butter, cheese, fried foods all lead to high cholesterol.

3) Other factors that play a role in high cholesterol include genetic composition which restricts cells from removing LDL cholesterol from the blood efficiently or cause the liver to produce too much cholesterol. This is regardless of a person’s saturated fat and cholesterol dietary intake.

4) Smoking, alcoholism, tobacco – as it damages the walls of the blood vessels, making them prone to accumulate fatty deposits.

5) High blood pressure as increased pressure on the artery walls damages arteries, leading to speedy accumulation of fatty deposits.

6) Diabetes contributes to high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol. High blood sugar also damages the lining of the arteries.

Cholesterol Treatment and prevention –

1) Lifestyle changes help improve the cholesterol level. Eat a healthy diet, do regular physical activity and avoid smoking/drinking.

2) Lose excess weight. Plan a daily exercise regime such as swimming, walks, or any other sport.

3) Eat heart friendly foods

4) Choose healthier fats such as monounsaturated fats. Almonds, olive, peanut and walnuts are good sources of healthy fat.

5) Limit cholesterol intake – no more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day — or less than 200 mg if you have heart disease.

6) Eat whole grains, whole wheat flour.

7) Consume lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, as they are rich in dietary fibre, which help lower cholesterol. Consume less of animal protein, and more of fish which is rich in omega – 3 fatty acids

7) Quit smoking and drinking

In spite of the above, if LDL remains high, the doctor may prescribe some medication or combination of medication depending on various factors, such as age, current health, risk factors, and possible side effects.

Home Remedies for Cholesterol:

* Coriander seeds are beneficial in lowering blood cholesterol. In 1 glass of water, add 2 tablespoons of coriander seeds and boil. Drink this mixture two times in a day. This is a good Home Remedy for Cholesterol

* Onion juice reduces cholesterol and works as a tonic for nervous system. It cleans blood, and regulates the heart action & helps in lowering cholesterol.

* Sunflower seeds contain a substantial amount of linoelic acid, which is helpful in reducing cholesterol deposits on the walls of the arteries. This is also useful Home Remedy for Cholesterol

* Substituting oil of sunflower seeds for some of the solid fats like butter & cream will lower cholesterol.

* Ginger reduces cholesterol, and thins the blood and thus improves the circulation. This remedy is very effective Home Remedy for Cholesterol

* Take 2-3 cloves of garlic daily to reduce high cholesterol levels.

* Turmeric helps by lowering serum cholesterol and by preventing the formation of the internal blood clots.

* Mix a teaspoon of powdered fenugreek seeds in a glass of water and take in the morning on an empty stomach for a month. This is an effective and useful Home Remedy for Cholesterol

* Prepare a mixture in a glass of water with 1-2 grams of powdered cinnamon. Strain this mixture & add a spoon of honey to it. Drink this solution once a day for 15-25 days. This helps control cholesterol.

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