Cholesterol, a complex subject in the realm of health, plays a crucial role in various bodily functions.This wax-like substance, synthesized by the liver, is present in all cells of the body and is essential for maintaining cell membrane integrity, producing hormones, and supporting neuronal and brain development.
To delve deeper into cholesterol and its functions within the body, Dr. LK Jha, a cardiologist at Asian Hospital, explains that while it is a broad topic, there are two main types: triglycerides and LDL (low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or “good” cholesterol.
“Cholesterol is a vast subject, and the level of cholesterol considered normal in the body may vary from one laboratory to another. When we analyze a cholesterol report, we take into account the reference range provided by the specific lab,” explains Dr. LK Jha.
For an average individual, the total cholesterol range should fall between 150-200. Triglyceride levels should be below 150, LDL levels below 160, and HDL levels above 35. Dr. Jha further adds, “If a person already has a cardiac disease or diabetes, the cholesterol levels should be less than 150, and HDL should be 145.”
Dr. Somnath Gupta, Consultant Physician & Diabetologist at Yashoda Hospitals, points out that increased consumption of cholesterol-rich, saturated fat-laden, and trans fat-containing foods elevates levels of bad cholesterol. Good cholesterol aids in the removal of harmful cholesterol from the bloodstream.
How can one prevent the formation of bad cholesterol?
According to Dr. Jha, processed foods are a major source of bad cholesterol.
“Any food that has been stored in the frozen section for an extended period should be avoided. Junk food preserved with additives should not be consumed as they typically have high cholesterol levels. Opt for fresh food even when eating out,” advises Dr. Jha.
Dr. Gupta highlights that diabetes or excessive blood sugar levels can also lead to elevated levels of bad cholesterol. Additionally, hypothyroidism, liver or kidney diseases, and polycystic ovarian disorder can contribute to increased levels of harmful cholesterol.
What is the best way to increase good cholesterol?
“While avoiding animal-based foods can help lower LDL levels, the most effective way to increase good cholesterol is through exercise,” advises the expert. Other factors, such as genetics and liver health, also impact cholesterol levels in the body.
Approximately three out of every 20 individuals experience some form of cholesterol abnormality.
To manage cholesterol, it is recommended to limit consumption of foods high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fats, and instead, incorporate more mono and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) such as safflower, sunflower, and fish oil into the diet. Nuts have also been found to significantly reduce blood cholesterol levels.
** Taking lead from INDIA TODAY