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21 answers to naive but important questions about cholesterol
21 answers to naive but important questions about cholesterol

You probably thought about it, but hesitated to ask.

21 answers to naive but important questions about cholesterol
21 answers to naive but important questions about cholesterol

1. What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol (aka cholesterol) is an organic compound that looks like wax. Frequently asked questions about cholesterol. "Hardened bile" - this is how this word is translated from Greek. You are unlikely to be able to touch cholesterol with your hands, so just take my word for it: there is such a waxy substance (to be precise, it is a fatty alcohol) in your body. And there is no getting away from him.

2. Does only humans have cholesterol?

Not only. This natural fatty alcohol is produced in all animals. But in plants and mushrooms it is not.

3. Where does it come from?

All the cholesterol the body needs is produced in the liver. But it can also come in the other way, Control Your Cholesterol, with food.

For example, if you like steak or kebabs, be prepared for the fact that chicken, pork, or, say, fish cholesterol will also become yours by replenishing your personal stocks. Milk, cream, sour cream, eggs - in the same piggy bank.

4. Cholesterol - is it harmful?

Vice versa. If there were no cholesterol, there would be no us. At least in the form to which we are accustomed.

Cholesterol is the most important building block of the body. He is actively involved in the creation of cells of all organs and tissues - nerves, muscles, skin, lungs, heart. The brain generally contains 25% of the total reserves of Cholesterol, the mind and the brain of cholesterol in the body, and this is justified: "hardened bile" is necessary for the growth and development of numerous nerve cells. But that is not all.

Here is a far from complete list of functions that Cholesterol cholesterol performs:

  • It is involved in the production of hormones including testosterone, estrogen and cortisol.
  • Essential for the synthesis of vitamin D.
  • It is a raw material for the production of bile acids, without which fats from food could not be broken down in the intestines.
  • Ensures the normal functioning of the immune system, helps the body resist the development of tumors.

5. But if cholesterol is needed and useful, why are we twitching?

Because things that are useful and even vital in normal doses become poisonous in excess.

If there is too much cholesterol in the body, it begins to accumulate on the walls of blood vessels, creating so-called atherosclerotic plaques. How it looks can be seen in the picture below (yellow is it, cholesterol).

Cholesterol: atherosclerotic plaques
Cholesterol: atherosclerotic plaques

The lumen of the vessels narrows, little blood enters the organs and tissues, they receive less nutrition and oxygen. All this can backfire with the most unpleasant consequences. Including the option that a blood clot forms in the narrowed vessel, which completely blocks blood flow. This can cause a stroke. With a possible lethal outcome.

6. How much cholesterol is too much?

A high level of cholesterol is reported if its total concentration in the blood exceeds Frequently asked questions about cholesterol 200 mg / dL, or 5 mmol / L. However, there is an important point here.

Cholesterol is conventionally divided into two types: "good" and "bad". And if the concentration of "bad" cholesterol really should be lower, then with "good" - a completely different story.

7. What is "good" and "bad" cholesterol?

Let us emphasize once again: these evaluative designations are conditional. Both "good" and "bad" cholesterol are one and the same substance. Only with a nuance.

Cholesterol cannot be in pure form in the blood. To deliver it to organs and tissues, the body does the following trick: it combines cholesterol into a single whole with fats and proteins. These "transport" compounds are called lipoproteins. It is they (more precisely, their composition) that determine the Cholesterol Levels, the estimated ratio to cholesterol.

  • "Bad" cholesterol is the one that is part of low density lipoproteins (LDL, or LDL, English LDL). In the form of LDL, it is delivered from the liver to organs and tissues. But if they are already saturated with cholesterol and do not take it, the substance is simply "unloaded" at the entrance, settling on the walls of blood vessels. This is how the very atherosclerotic plaques are formed.
  • The "good" cholesterol is the one found in high-density lipoproteins (HDL, or HDL, HDL). HDL captures "excess", unnecessary cholesterol from blood vessels and returns it back to the liver for processing. That is, they fight the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.

Ideally, both processes are balanced so that the vessels remain clean. But this is not always the case.

8. Can you determine how much "good" and "bad" cholesterol is in the blood?

Yes. An appropriate blood test shows the level of not only total cholesterol, but also its types.

9. What level of "bad" cholesterol is considered high?

The upper limit is 190 mg / dL (4.5 mmol / L). If the level of "bad" cholesterol in the blood is higher, it is a dangerous symptom that increases the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

With "good" cholesterol, the situation is exactly the opposite: the more, the better. It has a dangerous lower limit of 40 mg / dL (1 mmol / L). If the level of HDL is lower, again they talk about a high risk for the heart and blood vessels.

10. Are there symptoms that recognize high cholesterol?

No. In most cases, cholesterol does not manifest itself in any way. Until a stroke occurs.

Only sometimes on the skin of some people appear yellowish growths - xanthomas. They represent skin deposits rich in cholesterol, and may serve as an indirect confirmation of its high level.

11. How do I know if I have high cholesterol?

Get a blood test. The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Cholesterol be administered at least every 4-6 years.

12. Cholesterol rises due to the fact that we eat a lot of fatty foods?

Partly. The key is what type of fat you are eating.

It is known that the level of "bad" cholesterol in the blood rises with the use of:

  • saturated fats are mainly animal products: fatty meat, lard, butter, sour cream, cheese;
  • trans fats - those found in fast food, store baked goods, semi-finished products.

But unsaturated fats (they can be found in fatty fish, nuts - especially hazelnuts and peanuts), on the contrary, reduce the level of LDL.

13. Will there be more "bad" cholesterol from chicken eggs?

Not necessary. Yes, there are really a lot of cholesterol in chicken eggs. However, when it enters the bloodstream, it can transform into both "bad" and "good" forms. It all depends on the environment - what exactly you ate it with.

If you prefer an egg in a salad with mayonnaise or as a fried egg on lard, you will most likely get your LDL. But scrambled eggs in vegetable oil or an egg by itself will not increase the concentration of harmful cholesterol in the blood.

14. If a bottle of vegetable oil says "0% cholesterol", can you believe it?

100%. There is no cholesterol in plant foods. If a manufacturer of sunflower or olive oil emphasizes this fact, consider it just a gimmick.

15. And when other foods are labeled "low cholesterol", are they safe?

Not necessary. We have already determined: the role is played not so much by cholesterol as by its environment. Foods labeled "low cholesterol" may contain saturated fats that raise blood LDL cholesterol levels.

A separate nuance: even if such a product contains unsaturated fats - the same vegetable oil - it may contain too many calories. Make sure that the total amount of fat in your diet does not exceed 20-30% of the daily menu.

16. Does cholesterol affect weight gain?

Here, rather, we are talking about an indirect connection. The more saturated and trans fats you eat, the higher your cholesterol levels and, at the same time, your calorie intake. The consequence of the latter is overweight.

17. What, besides food, affects the level of "bad" cholesterol?

A diet high in saturated and trans fats is the most common cause of high cholesterol levels. However, there are other factors in Cholesterol levels:

  • being overweight or obese;
  • sedentary lifestyle;
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus;
  • hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland);
  • age after menopause in women;
  • chronic renal failure;
  • hypercholesterolemia is an inherited disorder in which LDL-cholesterol is removed from the blood less actively than necessary.

18. How often should my cholesterol level be checked?

It depends on a number of data: your age, medical history, additional risk factors (they are listed in the paragraph above). Therefore, it is ideal for your physician to determine the frequency of your cholesterol test.

The general recommendations of Cholesterol are as follows:

  • The first test for cholesterol should be done at the age of 9-11.
  • Until the age of 19, the test is done every 5 years. The exception is hereditary factors. If the family has had cases of high cholesterol, stroke, other cardiovascular diseases, the test should be taken every 2 years.
  • People over the age of 20 take the test every 5 years.
  • Men aged 45โ€“65 and women 55โ€“65 years old are recommended to have tests every 1โ€“2 years.

19. What to do if high cholesterol levels are found?

To begin with, consult with a therapist or other doctor who supervises you. It may be that your cholesterol level is slightly higher than normal, but there are no other risk factors - this situation is considered normal Questions about cholesterol and does not require treatment.

In general, making some lifestyle changes Frequently asked questions about cholesterol is often enough to lower cholesterol levels:

  • Eat less trans fats. Chips, hamburgers, other fast food, as well as baked goods, including cakes and pastries, are banned.
  • Remove skin and fat from meat, poultry, and fish.
  • Prefer boiled and baked foods over fried foods.
  • Lean on vegetables, fruits, and grains. Especially those that contain a lot of fiber - oatmeal, apples, prunes.
  • Move more. Exercise at least 30 minutes daily - walking, swimming, yoga, fitness. Talk to your doctor: he will help you find the optimal load.
  • Try to lose weight. It is enough to lose 4.5 kilograms for the level of LDL-cholesterol to fall by 8%.
  • Stop smoking.

20. Oh, so you can do without drugs?

Not always. The decision about whether you need drugs or not is made only by the doctor. The doctor takes into account the current level of cholesterol in the blood, as well as concomitant diseases. If the amount of the substance is large, you will be prescribed drugs called "statins" - they will help remove LDL-cholesterol from the body.

You will also need statins or other medications Cholesterol: Myths and Facts if you:

  • have a hereditary disorder that causes your cholesterol to rise from a young age;
  • suffer from cardiovascular disease;
  • have type 2 diabetes.

In no case should you refuse the drugs prescribed by your doctor - this is fraught with a heart attack.

21. How quickly will cholesterol levels drop?

Fortunately, high cholesterol is an easily regulated condition. If you change your lifestyle in accordance with the doctor's recommendations and start taking the necessary medications, cholesterol will return to normal within literally a couple of weeks.