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The Truth About Cholesterol and Your Health

With the rising incidences of heart diseases that is linked to cholesterol levels it has become necessary to determine how much and what type of cholesterol is good for us.

The awareness about ‘cardiovascular’ diseases is so widespread that the moment one comes to know that the cholesterol level is high, people get all panicky and take precautionary measures. If the doctor says the cholesterol level must be checked, patients automatically link it to heart disease. However, the truth about cholesterol level is that there is a healthy as well as unhealthy side to it.

While cholesterol is unhealthy, there are two types of cholesterol one of which is healthy and the other is unhealthy. When you go to the doctor for checking the cholesterol level, it is checked by the doctor by collecting blood sample from your arm or finger. The tests determine your risk of developing heart diseases.

Cholesterol travels through the blood stream and attaches itself to proteins forming ‘lipoproteins’ which are of two types- low density lipoprotein that delivers cholesterol to the body and a high density lipoprotein which removes cholesterol from bloodstream. Since low-density lipoprotein (LDL) adds cholesterol to the body, it is dubbed as ‘bad’ cholesterol while the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is ‘good’ cholesterol.

If your LDL is high then you are at a higher risk of developing stroke or heart ailments. This is however not the case if the total level of cholesterol is high owing to HDL. In the latter case, owing to the function of HDL, the risk factor is reduced to a great extent. However, whether your HDL or LDL levels are high or low with the respect to total blood cholesterol level, cholesterol is still an important risk determining factor.

Types of Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol levels are of three types:

Desirable level– this is less than 200 mg/dL. This is considered to be the ideal level of blood cholesterol.

Borderline High risk- This level can be anywhere between 200 to 239 mg/dL. which increases your risk factor to medium level.

High Risk- This level is when the cholesterol level is more than 240 mg/dL and it clearly means you are highly likely to develop heart diseases.

If you are at the desirable level, then you can continue to eat food that is low in the amount of fats. Being at low risk does not mean that you can relax. You must get your blood cholesterol level checked every five years or so especially if you are a man above 45 or woman above 55.

Borderline risk means your HDL is less than 40mg/dL. In that case, you must have your cholesterol level checked every two years. It is recommended if you get it checked every year. This is because you are at a risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. If there are genetic factors and other predisposition exposing you to the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases then you must have your cholesterol level checked often.

Apart from checking your cholesterol level you must switch over to maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Reduce your intake of unsaturated foods. Switch over to healthy, wholesome food. Consume whole cereals, pulses, fresh vegetables and fruits.

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