What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol; It is a soft substance that resembles adipose tissue in the blood. It has an important place in the composition of many cells and intracellular structures, hormones and body functions. Cholesterol’s tasks include protecting the body against microbes under the skin, strengthening red blood cells and nervous tissues, and adjusting the water balance in the body. It is very important to keep the cholesterol level at a level that should be for a healthy life.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like soft substance found in all cells in your body. The human body produces three-quarters of its cholesterol need, which is about 1 gram per day. The liver is the main center of cholesterol production in the body. Approximately 70% of the daily cholesterol production is provided by the liver. The rest is done in the adrenal glands, small intestine, and reproductive organs. A quarter of the cholesterol is obtained from animal foods such as egg yolk, cheese, meat.
Cholesterol, which is responsible for the durability of cells, is an essential substance not only for health but for life. Because even reproduction takes place through cholesterol. Sex hormones cannot be produced without testosterone and estrogen cholesterol.
What does cholesterol do?
- It contributes to the structure of the cell walls.
- It forms digestive bile acids in the intestine.
- It allows the body to produce vitamin D.
- It provides the production of certain hormones (reproductive-cortisol) in the body.
What are the types of cholesterol?
Cholesterol, which is necessary for the development and maintenance of cell membranes, is divided into two as good and bad. Since cholesterol is an oily soft substance, it is normally insoluble in water. Therefore, it is combined with a protein in the liver to dissolve and transport in the blood. The combination of this cholesterol and protein is called lipoprotein.
LDL-cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein): a type of bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol (LDL) carries cholesterol to the tissues and causes accumulation in the walls of the arteries. Normalizing bad cholesterol is not enough. Good cholesterol needs to be increased more. It is necessary to know the level of not only bad cholesterol, but also good cholesterol.
HDL-cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein): is a benign type of cholesterol. Good cholesterol (HDL) helps collect and remove cholesterol from the tissues. Another oil in the blood is triglycerides. Triglyceride is a blood-soluble oil like cholesterol. The relationship between blood triglyceride level and atheroclerosis is not as pronounced as cholesterol.
Why is LDL cholesterol bad?
LDL, a type of cholesterol, is known as “bad” cholesterol because the increase in LDL cholesterol values causes the arteries to harden. First, it can narrow the blood vessels by forcing oxygen-rich blood flow in the body. Second, it can lead to blood clots, block blood flow, causing a heart attack or stroke.
Why is HDL cholesterol good?
HDL, another type of Cholesterol, helps keep your cardiovascular system healthy. Helps remove LDL cholesterol from arteries. The liver passes the cholesterol delivered to it into the bile it produces and then sends it to the intestines. In this way, cholesterol is expelled from the body through the intestines. With this method, HDL cholesterol prevents bad cholesterol from accumulating in the vascular wall. That is why it has been described as good cholesterol.
High HDL cholesterol levels are protective against heart attack and stroke, and low HDL values increase these risks.
Why do cholesterol values increase?
The majority of cholesterol is produced in the liver. In addition, some cholesterol is taken from the foods we eat. Eating high-fat foods can increase cholesterol levels. Conditions such as being overweight and sedentary life cause high cholesterol. Overweight people often have a high triglyceride level. At the same time, non-sports and sedentary lifestyle can cause HDL, that is, to reduce good cholesterol.
Almost all of the cholesterol necessary for a healthy life is produced by the body. Apart from that, many foods taken from outside also contain cholesterol. The more meat and fried food consumed, the more cholesterol is taken. The real truth is that it’s not just foods that are responsible for high cholesterol. The sedentary lifestyle, obesity and the family’s medical history are among the reasons that can increase cholesterol.
Some diseases can also increase cholesterol. These are insufficient functioning of the thyroid gland, liver diseases, non-microbial inflammatory diseases of the kidney, diabetes, obesity and some drugs used.
Cardiovascular diseases are among the leading causes of death in developed countries and these deaths can be prevented or delayed by correcting problems such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity. High blood cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol is a risk for the patient, and high cholesterol is a cardiovascular risk factor. Low risk of HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol) is also a risk. Because, patients with this risk are more likely to develop diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and vascular occlusion.
What are the symptoms of cholesterol?
Bad cholesterol is usually silent. In general, it is not understood by the examination that high cholesterol is. In rare cases, in some cases of extremely high bad cholesterol, fat accumulation in the eyelids, fat and cholesterol accumulation in the hands and tendons can be seen. Most patients may have high cholesterol, but are difficult to understand by external examination.
- Blockages in the vessel wall
- Bruising on the toes
- Late healing of wounds.
- If the clogged place is the heart, the risk of a heart attack.
- If the clogged place is the brain, the risk of brain bleeding.
- Feeling tired
- Shortness of breath
- Blistering on the skin surface
- Pain around the chest
- Pain and cramps in various areas
What should be the ideal cholesterol value?
- Less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL): Optimal
- 100-129 mg/dL: Near or above optimal
- 130-159 mg/dL: Borderline high
- 160-189 mg/dL: High
- 190 mg/dL and above: Very high
If you have a condition like heart disease or diabetes, your doctor might recommend an LDL target of 70 mg/dL or below.
How to lower Cholesterol?
Nutrition should be given importance to keep cholesterol level in balance. Be careful while consuming animal foods, red meat, butter and delicatessen products containing saturated fats. It is recommended to choose olive oil, sunflower, hazelnut oil and soy oil.
Here are 11 cholesterol-lowering foods that effectively reduce cholesterol levels in a report from Harvard Health;
- Barley and whole grains
- Eggplant and okra
- Vegetable oils
- Fruits (Especially citrus, strawberry, apple, grape)
- Soy and soy based foods
- Oily fish (Salmon, tuna, sardines, etc.)
- Fiber-rich foods
Foods that lower Cholesterol
Foods that contain high levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) are listed in the same report:
- Red meat
- Whole milk
- Hydrogenic oils
- Baked products
High cholesterol therapy should be accompanied by a change in living conditions. Without this, drug therapy may not be the right solution. As the age gets older, the metabolism starts to slow down. Foods taken by the slowing of metabolism are stored as adipose tissue in the body. Even a healthy diet may not be enough to lower bad cholesterol if there is a genetic predisposition. In this regard, regular and adequate exercise, burning fat, and lowering bad blood cholesterol levels can be a savior.
Things to do to lower cholesterol
To exercise: At least 30 minutes of physical activity should be targeted whenever possible, if not every day of the week. Regular exercise raises HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), lowers LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
Diet: In the cholesterol diet, it is recommended to avoid fatty foods and saturated fats. Olive oil should be preferred instead of butter and margarine during the diet. Ready and frozen foods should not be consumed.
Losing weight: Losing excess weight helps to lower LDL cholesterol. It is especially important for people with high triglycerides, low HDL levels, and those with a number of risk factors for those who are overweight.
If the expected decrease in cholesterol is not achieved as a result of lifestyle change, the doctor may recommend starting drug treatment. At this stage, continuity of lifestyle change is essential to reduce the risk of many diseases.
Cholesterol diet example
- 30 grams of semi-fat white cheese
- 2 slices of brown bread
- Tomato cucumber
- Tea (without sugar)
- 2 walnuts or 6-8 nuts
- 2 -3 pieces of wholemeal gray
- Sugar-free tea or herbal tea
- 1 serving of fruit
- 150 grams of white meat (Chicken, fish, turkey)
It will be boiled, grilled or baked.
- 1 cup of soup
- 2 thin slices of brown bread
- Plenty of salad (will be lean)
- 1 serving of vegetables (without meat, low-fat)
- 1 bowl of light yogurt
- 2 thin slices of brown bread
- Salad / cold cut raw vegetables (without oil)
- 1 glass of light milk
- 1 serving of fruit
Note: 1 boiled egg can be eaten 1-2 times a week instead of 1 slice of white cheese.
Avoid sugary foods.
Eat legumes at least 2 times a week.
TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet) is also one of the common cholesterol diets. The diet in question is designed for high cholesterol patients under the National Cholesterol Education Program in the USA. The diet helps to lower cholesterol by raising cholesterol-lowering drugs, increasing fiber foods, and suppressing fat-containing foods violently. This is a plan to eat low saturated fat, low cholesterol, which requires less than 7 percent of calories from saturated fat and less than 200 mg of dietary cholesterol per day. The TLC diet recommends only enough calories to maintain a desired weight and prevent weight gain.