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.
Why Dietary Cholesterol Does Not Matter
High blood cholesterol levels are a known risk factor for heart disease.
For decades, people have been told that the dietary cholesterol in foods raises blood cholesterol levels and causes heart disease.
This idea may have been a rational conclusion based on the available science 50 years ago, but better, more recent evidence doesnt support it.
This article takes a close look at the current research on dietary cholesterol and the role it plays in blood cholesterol levels and heart disease.
Myth: I Would Be Able To Feel It If I Had High Cholesterol
Fact: High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. You may not know you have unhealthy cholesterol levels until it is too latewhen you have a heart attack or stroke. Thats why its so important to get your cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years.1,2 Learn more about getting your cholesterol checked.
Occasionally, some people develop yellowish growths on their skin called xanthomas, which are cholesterol-rich deposits. People with xanthomas may have high cholesterol levels.
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Things You Should Know About Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a buzzing topic, thanks to a new report from top nutrition researchers who advise the government about what and how Americans should be eating. If you’re feeling a little perplexed by all this cholesterol talk, here’s a simple breakdown of what you really need to know.
Cholesterol seems to be one of those words thats in everyones vocabulary, but many of my clients are incredibly confused about what cholesterol is, and how it affects their health. It also happens to be buzzing in the media at the moment, thanks to a new report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a group of top nutrition researchers who advise the government about what and how Americans should be eating.
If youre feeling a little perplexed by all this cholesterol talk, heres a simple breakdown of what you really need to know.
Myth: Eating Foods With A Lot Of Cholesterol Will Not Make My Cholesterol Levels Go Up
Fact: It can be complicated. We know that foods with a lot of cholesterol usually also have a lot of saturated fat. Saturated fats can make your cholesterol numbers higher, so its best to choose foods that are lower in saturated fats. Foods made from animals, including red meat, butter, and cheese, have a lot of saturated fats.
Instead, aim to eat foods with plenty of fiber, such as oatmeal and beans, and healthy unsaturated fats, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDCs nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.
Talk with your health care provider about ways to manage your cholesterol. Learn more about medicines to lower cholesterol.
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Mediator For Lipid Metabolism
Shrimp contain low levels of lipids, with total lipids accounting for less than 2 percent of their body weight. In shrimp muscle, phospholipids represent more than 50 percent of total lipids. They function mainly for the formation of biomembranes when cells grow and replicate, rather than as an energy source.
There are almost no triglycerides in shrimp muscle tissue. In shrimp hepatopancreases where most digestion and absorption take place, and enzymes and energy reserves are abundant phospholipids rank as the second major lipid class next to triglycerides.
With dietary supplementation of phospholipids, total lipids in the shrimp hepatopancreas increase while shrimp muscle lipids decrease, indicating that phospholipids facilitate lipid usage in muscle and storage in the hepatopancreas.
Maintaining sufficient energy supplies in the hepatopancreas is very important for shrimp under extreme conditions such as frequent molting, low dissolved oxygen levels, or thermal stress, when normal feed intake may be interrupted. The mobilization and utilization of these lipid stores from the hepatopancreas can contribute to the improved performance of shrimp under stressful conditions.
Since high-density lipoprotein seems to have dual functions in both shrimp defense systems and lipid transport, the question that remains is what roles phospholipids play in inducing such proteins. The topic deserves further research.
How Often To Have A Test
The American Heart Association recommends that people without a family history of heart disease or other risk factors check their cholesterol levels once when they are aged 911 years and again when they are aged 1721 years.
After the age of 20 years, the AHA suggests that people recheck their cholesterol levels and other risk factors every 46 years, as long as the risk remains low.
Those with a family history of heart disease should speak with a doctor about how often they need a cholesterol test.
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How Can A Nutrition Professional Help
Research strongly suggests that diet is an important factor when it comes to high cholesterol and resulting heart disease.
So why see a nutrition professional? Quite simply, a qualified nutrition professional knows whats good to eat and whats not. They can offer you their expert guidance without the confusion of conflicting theories or commercial dieting fads.
Everybodys relationship with food is different. A nutrition professional will tailor a nutrition plan to your personal needs and requirements.
A nutrition professional may be able to encourage you to eat a healthy, low cholesterol diet, which could, in turn, help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease or experiencing a stroke or heart attack, and maybe even improve your enjoyment of life.
Essential Nutrients Your Body Needs Now
With so much information circulating out there about nutrition, it can be challenging to make sure youre getting the nutrients you need each day. In fact, with some sources listing as many as 90 essential nutrients, following a balanced diet can quickly become overwhelming.
However, getting all the nutrients you need doesnt have to be complicated. In fact, by just being mindful about a few specific nutrients, eating a healthy diet full of nutrient-dense foods can be pretty simple.
Breaking it down into essential versus nonessential nutrients can help simplify and streamline your diet, making it easier than ever to achieve better health. But what are those nutrients, and what do nutrients do, anyway? Lets take a look at the 11 essential nutrients your body needs, why and how to obtain them.
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Dietary Tips To Avoid Cholesterol
The most important thing you can do to reduce your cholesterol level is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You should try to:
- Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods you have each day.
- Choose low or reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and other dairy products or have added calcium soy drinks.
- Choose lean meat .
- Limit fatty meats, including sausages and salami, and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
- Have fish at least twice a week.
- Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
- Include foods in your diet that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
- Limit cheese and ice cream to twice a week.
Other storage fats that are transported in blood lipoproteins include triglycerides. When present in high concentrations in the blood, this fat is also a risk for heart attack. Some foods will affect the cholesterol level or the triglyceride level and some will affect both.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
You can lower your cholesterol through heart-healthy lifestyle changes. They include a heart-healthy eating plan, weight management, and regular physical activity.
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.
Foods That Contain Cholesterol
Cholesterol is found mainly in organ meats, eggs and shrimps and, in lower amounts, in meat, fish and milk. The amount of cholesterol in foods does not necessary relate to the amount of fat: foods high in fat can be low in cholesterol and vice versa. Plant foods usually contain less than 1 mg of cholesterol per serving, which is insignificant for human nutrition and health . Foods high in cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol levels in some people, but foods high in saturated fats and trans fats can raise it more.
Picture 2. Examples of foods high in cholesterol
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The 6 Essential Nutrients You Cant Live Without
Again the term essential implies that these six essential nutrients are necessary in order to maintain and develop a healthy body.
These are the 6 Essential Nutrients your body needs daily:
1. Proteins they make up most of the cell structure including the cell membrane. Genetic information in the cell is stored as Protein in the form of DNA. All the enzymes, that catalyze metabolic reactions in the human body, are protein in nature.
2. Fats are used in making steroids and hormones. Cholesterol also makes up the cell membrane and provides a degree of rigidity to it. Fats also serve as solvents for hormones and fat-soluble vitamins.
3. Carbohydrates form the major part of stored food in the body for later use of energy. Glucose which is a monosaccharide is the bodys primary source of energy. When in excess, it is stored in the liver as Glycogen. Carbohydrates are also important for fat oxidation and can also be converted into protein.
4. Vitamins are mostly co-enzymes which are required for the normal functioning of enzymes. Vitamin C and E are antioxidants, while Vitamin K is required for blood clotting. They cannot be synthesized in the body, so must be taken in the diet.
5. Minerals are needed in small amounts to make co-factors. These are inorganic ions needed by the enzymes for activation. Other minerals are systemic electrolytes and essential in co-regulation of ATP.
Effect Of Dietary Cholesterol On Blood Cholesterol Levels:
- Dietary cholesterol increases blood cholesterol levels only in about 30% people the effect does not depend on body weight .
- Consumption of eggs, which are high in cholesterol, can increase blood cholesterol levels in some people, but it increases both LDL and HDL cholesterol, so it does not significantly increase the Total/HDL cholesterol ratio besides that, dietary cholesterol increases mainly large LDL particles , which are less plaque-forming, rather than small LDL particles .
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How Fat Moves From Food To The Bloodstream
Fat and cholesterol cant dissolve in water or blood. Instead, the body packages fat and cholesterol into tiny, protein-covered particles called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins can transport a lot of fat they mix easily with blood and flow with it. Some of these particles are big and fluffy, while others are small and dense. The most important ones are low-density lipoproteins , high-density lipoproteins , and triglycerides.
- Low Density lipoproteins
Low-density lipoproteins carry cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. Cells latch onto these particles and extract fat and cholesterol from them. When there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, these particles can form deposits in the walls of the coronary arteries and other arteries throughout the body. Such deposits, called plaque, can narrow arteries and limit blood flow. When plaque breaks apart, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. Because of this, LDL cholesterol is often referred to as bad, or harmful, cholesterol.
- High-density lipoproteins
High-density lipoproteins scavenge cholesterol from the bloodstream, from LDL, and from artery walls and ferry it back to the liver for disposal. Think of HDL as the garbage trucks of the bloodstream. HDL cholesterol is often referred to as good, or protective, cholesterol.
In general, the lower your LDL and the higher your HDL, the better your chances of preventing heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Where Is Cholesterol Made
Some of our cholesterol comes from the food we eat, but most is made in the liver in a complex 37-step process.
Cholesterol and another type of blood fat called triglycerides cannot circulate loosely in the blood, so the liver packages them into parcels called lipoproteins.
The lipoproteins are then released into the blood and carried around the body to wherever they’re needed.
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Dietary Cholesterol Saturated Fat Trans Fatty Acids And Cardiovascular Disease
As shown in , most foods that contain high cholesterol content are also rich in animal-based saturated fatty acids . As such, for each 100 g beef that contains 99 mg cholesterol, it has 29.4 gm SFA natural cheese, 107 mg cholesterol, and 19 gm SFA 214 mg cholesterol, and 50 gm SFA and chicken contains 101 mg cholesterol, and has 3.8 gm SFA. The exceptions are egg and shrimp. Shrimp contains 124 mg cholesterol and 0 g SFA, and one large egg contains 186 mg cholesterol and 1.56 g SFA . While shrimp is arguably expensive, egg is an economical and nutrient-dense food item with high-quality protein which is convenient and affordable to low-income families and is a good source of nutrients for growing children and older adults.
What’s Cholesterol Doing In There
Although cholesterol tends to get a bad rap, it also performs several important functions in the body:
- It plays a role in forming and maintaining cell membranes and structures. Cholesterol can insert between fat molecules making up the cell, making the membrane more fluid. Cells also need cholesterol to help them adjust to changes in temperature.
- Cholesterol is essential for making a number of critical hormones, including the stress hormone cortisol. Cholesterol is also used to make the sex hormones testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen.
- The liver also uses cholesterol to make bile, a fluid that plays a vital role in the processing and digestion of fats.
- Cholesterol is used by nerve cells for insulation.
- Your body also needs cholesterol to make vitamin D. In the presence of sunlight, cholesterol is converted into vitamin D.
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The Difference Between Good And Bad Cholesterol
If cholesterol is so necessary, why is it sometimes described as “bad” and at other times as “good?”
Your liver packages cholesterol into so-called lipoproteins, which are combinations of lipids and proteins. Lipoproteins operate like commuter buses that carry cholesterol, other lipids like triglycerides, fat-soluble vitamins, and other substances through the bloodstream to the cells that need them.
- Low-density lipoproteins, sometimes called bad cholesterol, gets its bad reputation from the fact that high levels of it are associated with increasing your risk of heart disease. LDL contains more cholesterol than protein, making it lighter in weight. LDL travels through the bloodstream and carries cholesterol to cells that need it. When it becomes oxidized, LDL can promote inflammation and force lipids to accumulate on the walls of vessels in the heart and rest of the body, forming plaques. These plaques can thicken and may limit or completely block blood and nutrients to affected tissues or organs.
- HDLor high-density lipoproteinsis also commonly referred to as “good cholesterol.” HDL is heavier than LDL because it contains more protein and less cholesterol. HDL gets its good reputation from the fact that it takes cholesterol from the cells and brings it to the liver. Having higher levels of HDL may also help lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
What Are Essential Nutrients
Essential nutrients refers to classes of nutrients found in food. Essential nutrients are simply those that are vital for the normal growth, maintenance and development of the body.
There might be a slight confusion about essential nutrients that must be addressed. The term essential when applied to amino acids and certain fatty acids, applies to those that need to be taken in the diet as they are not synthesized by the body. Essential amino acids include Methionine, Valine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Phenylalanine, Tryptophan, Threonine and Lysine. Essential fatty acids are Linolenic acid, Linoleic acid and Arachidonic acid, to name a few.
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How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed
There are usually no signs or symptoms that you have high cholesterol. There is a blood test to measure your cholesterol level. When and how often you should get this 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