How Does Dietary Cholesterol Affect Blood Cholesterol
The amount of cholesterol in your diet and the amount of cholesterol in your blood are very different things.
Although it may seem logical that eating cholesterol would raise blood cholesterol levels, it usually doesnt work that way.
The body tightly regulates the amount of cholesterol in the blood by controlling its production of cholesterol.
When your dietary intake of cholesterol goes down, your body makes more. When you eat greater amounts of cholesterol, your body makes less. Because of this, foods high in dietary cholesterol have very little impact on blood cholesterol levels in most people (
This is because the general increase in LDL particles typically reflects an increase in large LDL particles not small, dense LDL. In fact, people who have mainly large LDL particles have a lower risk of heart disease .
Hyperresponders also experience an increase in HDL particles, which offsets the increase in LDL by transporting excess cholesterol back to the liver for elimination from the body .
As such, while hyperresponders experience raised cholesterol levels when they increase their dietary cholesterol, the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol in these individuals stays the same and their risk of heart disease doesnt seem to go up.
Of course, there are always exceptions in nutrition, and some individuals may see adverse effects from eating more cholesterol-rich foods.
Contrary to popular belief, heart disease is not only caused by cholesterol.
What Is Cholesterol And Why Does Your Body Need Cholesterol
Theres no surprise to hear about the ill effects of cholesterol on your health. However, regardless of all the negativity that cholesterol gets, you might be surprised to learn that cholesterol is actually quite necessary for our body and for our overall health. Another surprising fact that most people remain unaware of is that cholesterol is produced naturally by our bodies. However, cholesterol still remains a complex topic, and not many people clearly understand it. Read on to find out why your body needs cholesterol.
What Are The Types Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol in the blood doesn’t move through the body on its own. It combines with proteins to travel through the bloodstream. Cholesterol and protein traveling together are called lipoproteins .
The two main types of cholesterol are:
LDL cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol,” carries cholesterol from the liver into the bloodstream, where it can stick to the blood vessels.
HDL cholesterol, or “good cholesterol,” carries the cholesterol in the blood back to the liver, where it is broken down.
Here’s a way to remember the difference: the LDL cholesterol is the bad kind, so call it “lousy” cholesterol “L” for lousy. The HDL is the good cholesterol, so remember it as “healthy” cholesterol “H” for healthy.
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Checking Your Blood Cholesterol Level
A cholesterol screening is an overall look at the fats in your blood. Screenings help identify your risk for heart disease. It is important to have what is called a full lipid profile to show the actual levels of each type of fat in your blood: LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and others. Talk with your healthcare provider about when to have this test.
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.
Eat A Healthy Balanced Diet
The body makes all the cholesterol it needs, so people do not need to consume it from foods.
However, according to one 2018 review , consuming cholesterol from animal products does not cause cardiovascular disease. Instead, it seems to be saturated fat that increases LDL and the overall risk of heart disease.
Therefore, although eggs contain cholesterol, they are low in saturated fat and nutrient dense, so people can include them as part of a healthy diet.
Avoiding saturated fat and trans fat
To avoid saturated fat and trans fat, people should try to limit the
Why Is Too Much Cholesterol In The Blood Bad
Too much cholesterol can build up in your blood vessels. This build-up can narrow vessels and lead to a blockage, preventing blood from getting to certain parts of your body. When this happens in your heart vessels, it is called coronary heart disease and can cause a heart attack. In people with chronic kidney disease , heart disease is very common, and is the number one cause of death in this group. It is suggested that people with CKD have their cholesterol tested every year. Your doctor may want to do them more often if something has changed with your health.
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How Cholesterol Moves Around The Body
Cholesterol is a white, insoluble and waxy substance. It is carried around the body by two key transport systems in the blood, which include:
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol carries most of the cholesterol that is delivered to cells. It is called the bad cholesterol because when its level in the bloodstream is high, it can clog up your arteries.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol is called the good cholesterol, because it helps remove excess cholesterol out of the cells, including cells in the arteries.
Where Is Cholesterol Made
Some cholesterol comes from the food we eat, but most is made in the liver in a complex 37-step process.
They are released into the blood to carry the fats around the body to wherever they’re needed.
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Cholesterol Is Essential For Various Bodily Functions
Written by Mansi Kohli | Updated : January 31, 2018 11:39 AM IST
Cholesterol is the waxy odourless substance that is produced by the liver in the body. Though most of us think of cholesterol negatively, according to Carlyne Remedios – Group Manager Clinical Practices, Nutrition & Product Development, Digestive Health Institute by Dr.Muffi, it is essential for various bodily functions, such as synthesis of hormones such as progesterone estrogen, testosterone and cortisol and it aids in the synthesis of vitamin D by helping the liver to produce bile salts it aids in the digestion of fats, and finally, it s the structural component of each and every cell in the body.
To understand the role of cholesterol better, first let us understand how cholesterol moves around the body: Cholesterol is insoluble in blood and is transported to and fro from the cells via Lipoproteins. The 2 major lipoproteins are Low-Density Lipoprotein or bad cholesterol and High-Density Lipoprotein or Good cholesterol. The major carrier of cholesterol in the blood is LDL. Too much circulation of LDL cholesterol in the blood can gradually clog the arteries that lead to the brain and heart. HDL cholesterol carries about 1/3rd of the blood cholesterol. HDL carries cholesterol away from the brain and heart and back to the liver, where it is metabolized.
Why Should I Lower My Cholesterol
Evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol can increase the risk of:
- narrowing of the arteries
- transient ischaemic attack often known as a “mini stroke”
- peripheral arterial disease
This is because cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, restricting the blood flow to your heart, brain and the rest of your body. It also increases the risk of a blood clot developing somewhere in your body.
Your risk of developing coronary heart disease also rises as your blood’s cholesterol level increases. This can cause pain in your chest or arm during stress or physical activity .
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You Need A Little Not A Lot
Cholesterol is in every cell in your body. You need cholesterol to help your brain, skin, and other organs do their jobs. But eating too much fat and cholesterol is a bad idea.
Cholesterol floats around in your blood and can get into the walls of the blood vessels. This can cause the blood vessels to get stiffer, narrower, or clogged. If the clogging gets worse over many years, it can cause a heart attack or stroke in adults.
Cholesterol can start to build up in childhood. Doctors can find out what your cholesterol level is by taking a little of your blood and testing it.
Lifestyle Tips To Cut Cholesterol
Changing some of your lifestyle habits may also help to reduce your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Suggestions include:
- Cease alcohol consumption or reduce your alcohol intake to no more than one or two drinks a day. Avoid binge drinking. This may help lower your triglyceride levels.
- Dont smoke. Smoking increases the ability of LDL cholesterol to get into artery cells and cause damage.
- Exercise regularly . Exercise increases HDL levels while reducing LDL and triglyceride levels in the body.
- Lose any excess body fat. Being overweight may contribute to raised blood triglyceride and LDL levels.
- Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. High blood sugars are linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis , heart attacks and strokes.
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What Are Some Causes Of High Cholesterol
As we mentioned above, cholesterol is carried through your blood attached to proteins. Factors impacting your overall cholesterol levels which are within your control include inactivity, obesity and a poor diet all of which contribute to high LDL and low HDL cholesterol. Factors beyond your control may also play a role in high cholesterol. Your family genetics may play a role in preventing cells from removing LDL cholesterol from your blood efficiently or cause your liver to produce too much cholesterol.
Knowing your cholesterol levels helps your doctor determine your risk for having a heart attack or a stroke. However, it isnt cholesterol alone that elevates risk. Your doctor uses your cholesterol levels plus other factors to calculate your risk: your blood pressure, whether or not you have diabetes, your age, sex, race and whether or not you smoke.
Lack of exercise is another cause of high cholesterol. Exercise helps boost your bodys HDL, or good cholesterol while increasing the size of the particles that make up your LDL, or bad cholesterol, making them less harmful.
What Else Increases The Chance For Heart Disease
Aside from high LDL cholesterol levels, the risk for heart disease increases with the following risk factors:
- cigarette smoking
- high blood pressure or on medicine to control high blood pressure
- family history of early heart disease
- other diseases that affect blood vessels
People with CKD may have some added risk factors that lead to heart disease:
- high calcium intake from diet or medicine
- high blood phosphorus levels
- whole body inflammation
People who are physically inactive or who eat foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol also have a greater chance for developing heart disease.
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Causes Of High Cholesterol
A build-up of cholesterol is part of the process that narrows arteries, called atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, plaques form and cause restriction of blood flow.
Reducing the intake of fat in the diet helps to manage cholesterol levels. In particular, it is helpful to limit foods that contain:
- Cholesterol: This is present in animal foods, meat, and cheese.
- Saturated fat: This occurs in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, deep-fried, and processed foods.
- Trans fats: This occurs in some fried and processed foods.
Excess weight or obesity can also lead to higher blood LDL levels. Genetic factors can contribute to high cholesterol. People with the inherited condition familial hypercholesterolemia have very high LDL levels.
Other conditions that can lead to high cholesterol levels, include:
In adults, total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter are considered healthy.
- A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is borderline high.
- A reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.
LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL.
- 100129 mg/dL is acceptable for people with no health problems but may be a concern for anyone with heart disease or heart disease risk factors.
- 130159 mg/dL is borderline high.
- 160189 mg/dL is high.
- 190 mg/dL or higher is considered very high.
- eat a heart-healthy diet
- achieve and maintain a healthy weight
Cholesterol And Heart Disease: Understanding The Connection
For years, it had been believed that theres more or less a straight line between cholesterol and heart disease but recent research suggests that this relationship may be more complex.
A Minneapolis Heart Foundation study, published in April 2017 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that many people who have heart attacks donthave high cholesterol. The link between cholesterol and heart disease is weak, says Dr. Roberts, who places a large portion of the blame for the persistence of that link on pharmaceutical advertising for statin drugs. Statins dolower cholesterol levels, she says, but atherosclerosis still progresses due to factors like age, poor diet, smoking, and so on.
In addition, a review of studies of cholesterol and cardiovascular disease published in August 2015 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that no rigorous connection could be drawn between dietary cholesterol intake and the risk of CVD.
In contrast, the results of long-term research, published in September 2017 in the journal Circulation, concluded that statin use in men with high LDL cholesterol who had no other risk factors for heart disease reduced their rates of coronary heart disease death, cardiovascular death, and all-cause mortality by 28 percent over 20 years.
Furthermore, a study of more than 400,000 people published in December 2019 in The Lancet found a strong link between non-HDL cholesterol and long-term risk of cardiovascular disease.
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Why Do We Need Cholesterol
There is cholesterol in every cell in your body. It plays vital roles in how your body works, and it’s especially important in your brain, nerves and skin.
Cholesterol has three main jobs:
- Its part of the outer layer, or membrane, of all your cells.
- Its used to make vitamin D and steroid hormones which keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
- Its used to make bile, which helps to digest the fats you eat.
Effects Of High Cholesterol Levels
The liver is the main processing centre for cholesterol and dietary fat. When we eat animal fats, the liver transports the fat, together with cholesterol in the form of lipoproteins, into our bloodstream.
Too much cholesterol circulating within LDL in our bloodstream leads to fatty deposits developing in the arteries. This causes the vessels to narrow and they can eventually become blocked. This can lead to heart disease and stroke.
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Who Can I Talk To About Specific Questions I Have To Reduce My Chance For Developing Heart Disease
- Your doctor can order medicines and tests that can lower your chance for developing heart disease.
- Your registered dietitian nutritionist can help you make healthy changes to your diet.
- A pharmacist can answer questions you might have about any medicine the doctor has prescribed for you.
- Other healthcare team members, such as a nurse or psychologist can also help answer questions about making lifestyle changes and other ways to prevent heart disease.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
If the lifestyle changes alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may also need to take medicines. There are several types of cholesterol-lowering drugs available, including statins. If you take medicines to lower your cholesterol, you still should continue with the lifestyle changes.
Some people with familial hypercholesterolemia may receive a treatment called lipoprotein apheresis. This treatment uses a filtering machine to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. Then the machine returns the rest of the blood back to the person.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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Safe Blood Cholesterol Levels
Health authorities recommend that cholesterol levels should be no higher than 5.5 mmol per litre if there are no other risk factors present. If there are other cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure or pre-existing cardiovascular disease, then the aim for the LDL levels would be less than 2 mmol/l. Approximately half of all adult Australians have a blood cholesterol level above 5 mmol/l. This makes high blood cholesterol a major health concern in Australia.
Vital Reasons Your Body Needs Cholesterol
Cholesterol is one of those scary words. So many ideas cross our minds when we think of it, like narrowed arteries, heart disease, stroke, heart attack, general poor health.
But there are many components to cholesterol, and types that are looked at when considering health, like the numbers associated with triglyceride levels, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol. Our bodies produce this substance naturally and it is vital to health. So its important to consider the lesser-known types of cholesterol: HDL, or the good type, and how to increase it to increase our chances of heart health and long life.
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