How To Lower Cholesterol: Smart Protein
To reduce cholesterol, limit red meat and eat more fish and lean poultry.
How to Prepare Healthy Proteins
- Trim all fat from meats, and remove all skin from poultry before cooking.
- Broil or bake, don’t fry foods.
- Drain fat from any meats before serving.
- Avoid processed meats such as hot dogs or cold cuts, even those labeled “reduced fat,” as many are still high in saturated fats and calories.
- Oily fish such as salmon or trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce triglyceride levels and improve HDL cholesterol levels.
- Soy proteins can also have a beneficial effect and help to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising HDL cholesterol levels.
What Are Dangerous Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol levels are checked with a simple blood test and measured in milligrams per deciliter . According to the Mayo Clinic, total cholesterol is grouped into the following three categories:
- Less than 200 mg/dL is considered healthy
- Between 200 and 239 mg/dL is borderline high
- 240 mg/dL and higher is classified as high
But it may surprise you to learn that your total cholesterol number might not give you the full picture.
A person’s level of non-HDL cholesterol is more of a concern than their total cholesterol level, says Robert Eckel, MD, professor of medicine, emeritus, at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, former president of the American Heart Association and president of the American Diabetes Association.
A non-HDL level is simply a person’s total cholesterol minus their HDL cholesterol. “Non-HDL cholesterol is a very important predictor for the risk of heart disease, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Eckel tells LIVESTRONG.com.
A healthy level of non-HDL cholesterol is less than 130 mg/dL, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your test results are higher, you are at an increased risk of heart disease.
But according to Dr. Eckel, studies show that non-HDL is the best predictor of cardiovascular disease, better than total cholesterol or LDL-to-HDL ratios. Though many clinicians still use other tests, Dr. Eckel says non-HDL tests are increasingly common.
High Blood Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is a type of fat that circulates in your blood. Too much of it increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
The condition doesn’t have any obvious symptoms so blood tests are required to confirm if a person has high blood cholesterol.
Changes to diet, regular exercise and other lifestyle changes can reduce cholesterol levels In some cases, people with persistent high blood cholesterol may be treated with cholesterol-lowering medication.
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How To Lower High Ldl Cholesterol
Your doctor will set up a plan of lifestyle changes and/or medication that can lower your cholesterol levels and your overall odds of a heart problem. Your plan might include:
- A healthy diet. Try not to eat things that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, or simple carbs such as sugar and white flour. Eat more fiber and plant sterols such as margarine or nuts.
- Regular exercise. The kind that gets your heart pumping is best.
- Weight loss. Losing even 5 to 10 pounds can improve your cholesterol levels.
- Quitting tobacco. If you have a hard time giving up smoking, your doctor can help you find the program thatâs best for you.
- Medication. Some drugs, like statins, help keep your body from making cholesterol. Another, ezetimibe , lowers the amount of cholesterol your body gets from food you eat. If you canât take statins or have a severe form of high cholesterol, you might get shots of PCSK9 inhibitors. These meds help your liver remove more LDL from your blood.
Why You Should Avoid Cholesterol
Cholesterol circulates throughout the bloodstream, and too much of it can have negative effects on your body, especially your heart. High levels of “bad” cholesterol can raise your risk of heart disease or stroke.
When you have too much LDL cholesterol in your system, it can form plaque, which is a buildup on the walls of the blood vessels. This buildup narrows the blood vessels, which blocks the healthy flow of blood in the body and can potentially cause a heart attack or other problems. For this reason, experts recommend consuming less than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day.
Cholesterol also travels within the central nervous system and is important for normal brain functioning. Too much of it, however, may have negative consequences for learning and memory. Reducing cholesterol through the use of drugs called statins may improve memory, but more research is needed in this regard.
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Normal Cholesterol Levels By Age
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that plays many roles in the body, including synthesizing hormones and vitamin D. It also assists in the transporting of lipids. Cholesterol is found in the foods you eat, but it is also made by the liver.
We need some cholesterol to build healthy cells, but an accumulation of the bad kind can be problematic, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis. The recommended ranges for your cholesterol will depend on your age. Find out what cholesterol levels are, why age is a factor, and how to keep your levels within a healthy range.
Verywell / Jessica Olah
Ldl As A Risk Factor For Heart Disease
LDL carries about 60-70% of serum cholesterol . It transports cholesterol from the liver to the peripheral tissues. High levels of LDL-C are harmful because it can build up on the arterial walls to initiate the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Unlike the other lipoproteins, each LDL particle contains mostly one apoB-100 which is responsible for the selective binding of LDL to the LDLR. The binding of LDL to its receptor in the liver is the major mechanism used to remove LDL from circulation. Using this mechanism, about 70% of LDL are removed by the liver, releasing FC . The increase in intracellular cholesterol can affect blood cholesterol levels by inhibiting de novo synthesis of cholesterol, decreasing the synthesis of the LDLR, and increasing the activity of an enzyme that facilitates cholesterol storage .
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Hdl Is Good Cholesterol
You need HDL cholesterol to pick up excess LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream. Most of the cholesterol in your body is LDL, and HDL takes it back to your liver, where cholesterol is originally produced. The excess cholesterol is then broken down and removed from your body.
How well that cholesterol flows back to the liver, or its efflux, determines how effectively HDL can do its job. According to Robert Bales, a family medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic, 30 milligrams per deciliter is generally a good benchmark for HDL cholesterol.
Regular, vigorous exercise can promote HDL efflux, according to a 2018 study in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. Your diet also plays a part in boosting HDL levels: Eating more fish and almonds can raise your HDL levels, for example.
What Are The Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
Lifestyle factors include:
- an unhealthy diet eating too much saturated fat is thought to increase levels of LDL or bad cholesterol
- lack of exercise this can also increase your levels of LDL
- obesity being overweight often means you also have higher levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and a lower level of the good HDL.
- drinking too much alcohol
- smoking if you smoke, a chemical in cigarettes called acrolein stops the good HDL from moving fatty deposits to your liver
- transient ischaemic attack or a mini stroke
- peripheral arterial disease
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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.
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.
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Cholesterol Levels For Adults
- Total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter are considered desirable for adults. A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and a reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.
- LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL. Levels of 100 to 129 mg/dL are acceptable for people with no health issues but may be of more concern for those with heart disease or heart disease risk factors. A reading of 130 to 159 mg/dL is borderline high and 160 to 189 mg/dL is high. A reading of 190 mg/dL or higher is considered very high.
- HDL levels should be kept higher. A reading of less than 40 mg/dL is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. A reading from 41 mg/dL to 59 mg/dL is considered borderline low. The optimal reading for HDL levels is of 60 mg/dL or higher.
When To See A Doctor
The AHA recommend that both men and women over the age of 20 have their cholesterol, as well as a blood panel, checked every 4 to 6 years.
Doctors can use this information to treat early conditions. They can even predict a 10-year or lifetime risk for heart attack or stroke. Its important for people to get check-ups because high cholesterol does not have symptoms.
If a blood analysis is done and high levels of cholesterol are found, a doctor can help make a plan to reduce the risks. This plan may include lifestyle changes, such as exercise, diet, prescription medication, and nutrition advice.
Losing weight and exercising regularly, avoiding sugary food and alcohol, and taking cholesterol-lowering medication may help.
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What Is Familial Hypercholesterolemia
Familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited condition that can cause a person to have high levels of bad cholesterol. FH can mean that a person is at a higher risk of conditions such as heart disease.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that the body uses to make cells, vitamins, and hormones. A persons liver produces all the cholesterol their body requires. A person can also take in cholesterol from food.
A certain amount of cholesterol in the body is necessary for normal function. However, too much bad cholesterol can cause problems. A person with FH has high levels of bad cholesterol due to a genetic defect.
Read on to learn more about FH, including its symptoms, causes, and treatments.
FH is a genetic condition that causes a person to have high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. LDL is what many people refer to as bad cholesterol.
The American Heart Association notes that about are living with FH in the United States. However, only around 10% of people with FH know they have it.
There are of FH that a person can have:
- Heterozygous FH: If one parent passes on a mutated FH gene, a person will have heterozygous FH.
- Homozygous FH: Homozygous is a rarer, more severe form of FH. Homozygous FH occurs when both parents pass on the mutated gene for FH.
who have FH experience no symptoms at all. If a person does have symptoms of FH, these can include:
Causes Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease and a cause of heart attacks.
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.
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Further Information And Support
For assessment and treatment of high cholesterol levels see a doctor. For ideas about how to lower high cholesterol levels a doctor or dietitian can assist.
Our Heart disease diet and Heart disease exercise pages provide practical ideas and ways to get started with healthier lifestyles in general, including cholesterol reduction.
Why Is Cholesterol Important To Our Bodies
Every cell in the body needs cholesterol, which helps the cell membranes form the layers. These layers protect the contents of the cell by acting as the gatekeeper to what things can enter or leave the cell. It is made by the liver and is also used by the liver to make bile, which helps you digest foods. Cholesterol is also needed to make certain hormones and to produce vitamin D. Your liver makes enough cholesterol to meet your bodys needs for these important functions.
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What Has The Biggest Impact On Ldl Cholesterol
Contrary to the long-held belief that dietary cholesterol itself is a major cause of high LDL, evidence suggests a weaker link. It’s still a good idea to steer clear of dietary cholesterol, but that intake isn’t the biggest influence. The current understanding is that the specific mix of carbohydrates and fats in your diet is the biggest factor in determining your LDL levels.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol Level
The first step in reducing your cholesterol is to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Its important to keep your diet low in fatty food.
You can swap food containing saturated fat for fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals. This will also help prevent high cholesterol returning.
Other lifestyle changes, such as taking regular exercise and giving up smoking, can also make a big difference in helping to lower your cholesterol.
If these measures dont reduce your cholesterol and you continue to have a high risk of developing heart disease, your GP may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication, such as statins.
Your GP will take into account the risk of any side effects from statins. The benefit of lowering your cholesterol must outweigh any risks.
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Cholesterol: The Good The Bad And The Lipoprotein
Our bodies make and use cholesterol to aid in digestion, and to produce vitamin D and hormones. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in many of the foods we eat, such as egg yolks, fatty meats, dairy products, and saturated oils. Too much cholesterol can cause plaque to build up on the walls of your arteries which can narrow blood flow. This may eventually lead to coronary artery disease or other health complications. Simbo Chiadika, MD, a cardiologist with UT Physicians, explains why.
What Makes Ldl Cholesterol Too High
A range of medical and lifestyle factors cause high LDL, including:
- Diet: Diets high in saturated fats, salts, and cholesterol and low in healthy proteins and fiber can lead to high LDL.
- Lack of physical activity: Not getting enough exercise and being sedentary contributes to weight gain and can also push levels up. You may see higher LDL if you don’t get a minimum of 30 minutes a day of activity.
- Weight status: Being overweight or obese greatly increases the chances of developing high LDL. Even modest gains in weight can push levels to unhealthy ranges.
- Alcohol and tobacco: Smoking and drinking are both associated with high cholesterol, among many other detrimental effects on health.
- Genetics: High LDL can be inherited, a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia . The severity of FH ranges, but those with the homozygous formin which both parents are carriers of the faulty genemay have extremely high amounts of this type of cholesterol.
- Medications: Taking several classes of drugs can lead to spikes in LDL. These include those for heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation, certain viruses, and seizures, among other conditions. Talk to your doctor about how these prescriptions may impact cholesterol.
- Health conditions: Diseases and conditions that cause high LDL include type 2 diabetes, pregnancy, chronic kidney disease, and hypothyroidism.
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