Low Levels Of ‘bad’ Cholesterol May Have A Downside
03 July 2019
When it comes to “bad” cholesterol, lower is usually better for heart disease risk. But a new study suggests it may be possible for cholesterol levels to be too low.
The study researchers found that low levels of “bad” cholesterol, known as LDL cholesterol, were tied to an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain.
The findings suggest that, “as is true with many things in nutrition, moderation and balance is key when deciding the optimal target level of LDL cholesterol,” study senior author Dr. Xiang Gao, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State, said in a statement. “You can’t go to either extreme too high or too low.”
The authors said the findings, which were published yesterday in the journal Neurology, might help further refine recommendations for healthy cholesterol levels. For example, people who are at high risk for hemorrhagic stroke, because of risk factors such as having a family history of the condition, might be better off aiming for cholesterol targets that aren’t quite as stringent as would otherwise be recommended.
Still, the findings will need to be confirmed by further research. Although the new study was large, involving nearly 100,000 people, all of the participants lived in a single city in China, and it’s unclear how well the findings apply to other populations.
People should discuss their optimal cholesterol targets with their doctor, Gao told Live Science.
Substitute Healthy Oils In Place Of Butter And Margarine
Of course, its not always realistic to avoid fats when youre whipping up a tasty meal.
When you do need to add fat for cooking, baking or pan frying, use healthy oils instead of solid fats like butter, margarine, shortening and lard. Solid fats are high in saturated fats, but oils are high in unsaturated fats, which remember are better for you. The American Heart Association recommends using oils that have less than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon .
Many times, its easy to swap a solid fat to a healthier one. Try using olive oil, sunflower oil or grapeseed oil in place of a solid fat.
For example, if youd rather use olive oil than butter, substitute ¾ the amount of butter in a recipe with olive oil. You might also bring out some new, surprising, subtle flavors, too.
You Can Begin Lowering Cholesterol Naturally Today
Sound like a lot to take on? Dont be intimidated. Bringing down your high cholesterol doesnt have to mean changing your life completely. Rather, start with changing your mindset. Instead of moving away from things, youre moving toward new habits that will help you create a healthier and more enjoyable future.
Now is always the right time to start taking care of your heart health. If you need a little support, lean on friends and family. And dont forget: Your doctor is always there for you with advice, motivation and encouragement so you can reach your goals and live healthier.
You May Like: Why Is Shrimp So High In Cholesterol
Making Sense Of Your Cholesterol Numbers
It’s important to know your cholesterol levels and what they mean so you can take action to protect your heart health.
Good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, high LDL, low HDL: Understanding your cholesterol levels can be confusing. Even though its complicated, learning how to make sense of your cholesterol numbers is important. It’s the key to knowing what steps you need to take to keep your heart healthy.
Unfortunately, high cholesterol has no warning signs. But if your levels of cholesterol a fat-like substance in the body are too high, that can seriously increase your risk of heart disease. Thats why certain blood tests are necessary to measure the amount of cholesterol in your blood. “The earlier we can address cholesterol issues, the more likely we are to prevent the development of heart disease,” says David Frid, MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Cholesterol Tests and What They Mean
It’s recommended that all adults older than 20 have a fasting lipoprotein profile, a blood test performed after 9 to 12 hours of fasting, once every five years. The test provides the following breakdown of your cholesterol in milligrams per deciliter of blood, or mg/dL:
2 Other Ways to Assess Cholesterol
Frid notes, however, that this test is expensive. In most cases, he believes doing a basic cholesterol test and knowing patients’ risk factors are enough.
Taking Control of Your Cholesterol Numbers
Ldl Cholesterol: ‘bad’ Cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, is the type that tends to deposit on the walls of the arteries. White blood cells combine with the LDL cholesterol, forming artery-narrowing plaque, which restricts blood flow. The optimal level of LDL cholesterol for most people is 100 mg/dL or lower. If you have heart disease, you may need to strive for LDL levels of 70 mg/dL or lower.
Don’t Miss: Do Egg Beaters Have Cholesterol
What Exactly Is Cholesterol
Despite its association with health problems, cholesterol is something the body needs. Cholesterol is necessary to make certain hormones. Its involved in making vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. Cholesterol also plays a role in making some of the substances required to digest food.
Cholesterol travels in the blood in the form of lipoproteins, which are tiny molecules of fat wrapped in protein. There are two major types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein .
LDL is sometimes referred to as bad cholesterol. This is because its the kind of cholesterol that can clog your arteries. HDL, or the good cholesterol, helps bring LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream to the liver. From the liver, the excess LDL cholesterol is removed from the body.
The liver plays another key role in cholesterol. Most of your cholesterol is made in your liver. The rest comes from the food you eat. Dietary cholesterol is found only in animal food sources, such as eggs, meat, and poultry. Its not found in plants.
Very Low Ldl Cholesterol Levels: Causes Symptoms Dangers And Treatment
Though keeping your low-density lipoproteins or LDL cholesterol levels low is advisable in view of the health risks of its higher levels, very low or extremely low levels also carry risks.
Extremely low LDL cholesterol levels mean LDL levels below 40 mg/dL. However, the risk of cardiovascular events, which is very high with high LDL levels, diminishes at these low levels.
But, such too low values are associated with certain other risks such as cancer and hemorrhagic stroke, which I have outlined below along with the possible causes, required diet changes and the treatment options.
When you are born, your LDL cholesterol levels are at around 40 mg/dL. But, as you grow the average healthy levels rise and as an adult, your LDL values should be below or around 100 mg/dL.
To know where you stand, compare your results with the standards described in this post on the normal and undesirable cholesterol levels in children, adults and the elderly.
Experts set a new guideline in 2004 for people with the highest risk of cardiovascular disease. According to this guideline, such high-risk people should ideally have an LDL cholesterol level of 70 mg/dl.
The experts described this as a therapeutic option, indicating that it is one of the options that can reduce the risk of heart disease considerably.
You May Like: Is Beef Bone Broth High In Cholesterol
How Often Should I Get A Cholesterol Test
When and how often you should get a cholesterol test depends on your age, risk factors, and family history. The general recommendations are:
For people who are age 19 or younger:
- The first test should be between ages 9 to 11
- Children should have the test again every 5 years
- Some children may have this test starting at age 2 if there is a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke
For people who are age 20 or older:
- Younger adults should have the test every 5 years
- Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should have it every 1 to 2 years
When Should You Contact Your Healthcare Provider About Your Cholesterol Levels
In truth, your healthcare provider will probably talk to you about your numbers first. As always, contact your provider if you have any new or worsening pain or other uncomfortable feelings. Make sure you know what medications you take and what they are expected to do. Call the provider if you have a reaction to the medicine.
Before you go to the office, and after you have had a cholesterol test, it helps to have a list of questions prepared about your test results and any proposed treatment.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
When considering cholesterol numbers, its important to remember that you really have the ability to make those numbers go in your favor. What you choose to eat, how much you are able to move and how you deal with lifes ups and downs are things that you can influence.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/31/2020.
Don’t Miss: Does Tuna Have Good Or Bad Cholesterol
Are Home Cholesterol Testing Kits Accurate
The answer is yes if the tests are labeled CDC-certified. This means that the contents have been approved by the Cholesterol Reference Method Laboratory Network, a group that works with test makers, laboratories and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make sure tests are accurate.
For home tests, you will still need to fast for 12 hours and to obtain blood for testing. Some kits come with packages for mailing to a lab for results. Other kits have a monitor so you can get the results at home. The cost of such home kits vary.
Your Total Cholesterol Figure Divided By The Hdl
Whats healthy? The lower this figure, the better. Ideally 4.5, while above 6 is considered high risk.
What should I do? This reading will help your GP work out whether your overall cholesterol levels are healthy, which in turn helps them calculate your risk of CVD – another reason why its important to have full cholesterol results, not just TC. It could be high if your TC, LDL-C and non-HDL cholesterol levels are too high, or if your HDL-C is too low, or a combination of both. Maintaining a healthy TC:HDL ratio long-term can help reduce your risk of CVD in future. You can do this by following the advice above.
Also Check: Cholesterol In Pork Chop
You Dont Need To Avoid Eggs And Seafood
Some foods are high in cholesterol but are fine to eat in moderation, as long as your overall diet is low in saturated fats. For example:
- Egg yolks a single egg yolk contains 200250 mg of cholesterol, which is almost the uppermost recommended daily intake . However, reducing egg intake is probably not important for healthy people with normal blood cholesterol levels.
- Seafood prawns and seafood contain some cholesterol, but they are low in saturated fat and also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood is a healthy food and should not be avoided just because it contains cholesterol. However, avoid fried and battered seafood.
Prevention And Prognosis Of Low Cholesterol
Low cholesterol prevention isnt something that most people think about because it is usually high cholesterol that makes the headlines. The best way to keep cholesterol levels in balance is to get regular check-ups. Maintaining a heart-healthy diet and living an active life can also go a long way in keeping your cholesterol levels in check. It is also helpful to be aware of any family history connected to cholesterol problems and pay close attention to symptoms of anxiety, particularly if they make you feel really aggressive or violent.
If you or someone in your family shows signs of low cholesterol, you might be concerned about low cholesterol prognosis. It is true that low cholesterol has been associated with some serious health complications, such as intracerebral hemorrhage, but this typically happens in older adults. Women with low cholesterol also run the risk of having low birth weight or even premature babies. Sadly, low cholesterol has also been deemed a risk factor for suicide.
If you are ever diagnosed with low cholesterol, dont be afraid to talk to your doctor about your concerns. It is important to remain open and report all of your symptoms, including any feelings of anxiety or depression, so thatyour health care provider can guide you to the best possible treatment.
Also Check: Optilipid
The Total Amount Of Cholesterol In Your Blood
Whats healthy? Government advice has moved away from giving absolute figures, but ideally your cholesterol should be be 5 mmol/L or less, or 4 mmol/L if youre at high risk of CVD, or you have high blood pressure, diabetes or have had a cardiovascular event.
What should I do? If your TC level is too high, you can help bring it down by making some simple diet and lifestyle changes, such as:
- Being more active.
- Cutting down on foods rich in saturated fats, such as butter, lard and full-fat dairy.
- Swapping fatty meats for lean meats, such as chicken.
- Eating more foods with healthy fats, such as olive oil, nuts, seeds and oily fish.
- Having meat-free days – try Quorn® or soya products instead.
- Eating more fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, especially oats and barley.
Including more foods fortified with plant sterols or stanols in your diet.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when you need to be tested again.
Hdl Cholesterol: ‘good’ Cholesterol
Not all cholesterol is bad. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it actually works to keep the LDL, or “bad” cholesterol from building up in your arteries. The higher the HDL, the better. HDL levels of 60 mg/dL and higher can help reduce your risk for heart disease. Conversely, HDL levels of 40 mg/dL and lower are considered a high risk-factor for developing heart disease.
Also Check: Does Beer Contain Cholesterol
How Is Very Low Ldl Cholesterol Treated
The first concern is to raise the LDL from +/- 40 mg/dL and bring it to at least around +/- 70 to 80 mg/dL. This will reduce the risk of the complications.
Early treatment in neonates can prevent the further progression of the neurological problems as well as the degeneration of the retina.
Vitamin E in the dose of 100 mg/body weight will set right the low vitamin E levels in the body tissues.
Plasma levels of tocopherol, however, may still be below the normal. Tocopherols are a member of the vitamin E family naturally present in vegetable oils, nuts, fish and leafy green vegetables.
Dietary fat is restricted to control steatorrhea.
Deficiency of vitamins A, D, and K is treated with replacement therapy.
Infants and children who are identified with homozygous FHBL or ABL require prompt treatment with very high doses of vitamin E. Heterogeneous patients require Vitamin E in modest doses
Adults may develop complications, which are treated according to the merits and demerits.
Dietary management consists of restricting intake of long-chain fatty acids to 15 g per day. This will improve the complications due to fat malabsorption.
Very large doses of oral vitamin E at 100-300 mg/kg/day t in homozygotes to avoid neurological problems. This will raise the tissue levels of vitamin E.
Heterogeneous adult patients require Vitamin E in modest doses
Vitamin A supplementation is given in cases where there is vitamin K depletion.
What Is High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is when there’s too much bad cholesterol and/or not enough good cholesterol in your blood.
This picture shows what it looks like if you have low cholesterol, normal cholesterol and bad cholesterol levels.
Sometimes health professionals talk about the terms dyslipidaemia and hyperlipidaemia. Both are clinical terms that mean your levels of cholesterol are outside the normal range.
Symptoms of high cholesterol
You won’t know if you have high cholesterol because it doesn’t usually have symptoms. The only way to know is to have a blood test.
Why does high cholesterol matter?
When your cholesterol is too high it can build up as plaque in your arteries. If the plaque gets too big, or breaks off, it can cause a heart attack and stroke. This risk also increases when your triglycerides are too high.
Your doctor will use the results of your blood test and your other heart attack risk factors to decide whether you need medication to lower your cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
Recommended Reading: How Much Cholesterol In Egg Beaters
What Do The Numbers Say
Normal blood pressure is considered less than 120/80 mm Hg. At that measurement, a person just needs to be screened at their yearly doctors visit. Elevated blood pressure is considered 120 to 129 of systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic. Elevated blood pressure can develop into high blood pressure if lifestyle changes arent implemented.
If someone develops Hypertension Stage 1, their blood pressure is between 130 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 mm Hg diastolic. Doctors will typically suggest making lifestyle changes and possibly medication. At Hypertension Stage 2, numbers are typically 140/90 mm Hg or more. At this point, a doctor will suggest both medication and lifestyle changes. Blood pressure measurements in excess of 180/120 mm Hg are considered Hypertensive crisis and require immediate medical attention.
Yes Your Cholesterol Can Be Too Low
4 years ago |Heart health
I recently saw on Facebook a sponsored healthy, plant-based meal delivery service ad with some interesting benefits. The ad featured a woman who was giving thanks to this service for providing healthy food for her husband whose cholesterol level was now at 110.
My husbands cholesterol is down to 110. Its worth every penny to have more happy years together, she said.
Of course, I was happy to learn that she was happy her husband is healthier, but my visceral reaction was to question whether a cholesterol level of 110 was healthy.
Cholesterol numbers are measured in milligrams per deciliter . So the appropriate reference above should have been 110 mg/dL. We are all use to hearing about high cholesterol levels well in excess of 200 mg/dL, because high cholesterol puts us at increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. But we really hear less about the health consequences of significantly lower cholesterol levels.
However, it is possible for cholesterol to be too low. And there is credible evidence showing that very low cholesterol levels may put us at increased risk for other diseases, like depression, cancer and anxiety.
To understand the effects of high or low cholesterol, it is important to understand exactly what cholesterol is and how it works within our bodies.
And our bodies, mostly the liver, makes all of the cholesterol we need.
Having too much cholesterol can put us in dangerous health territory.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Don’t Miss: Is Banana Good For Cholesterol