Cholesterol :: Understanding cholesterol and tips to manage high cholesterol

Cholesterol is essential for human life. It builds and repairs cells, it is used to produce sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone, it is converted to bile acids to help you digest food and it is found in large amounts in brain and nerve tissue. The liver produces enough cholesterol to satisfy these functions. Concerns associated with cholesterol starts when intake from foods like meat, particularly organ meats like liver and kidney, eggs, dairy and other “animal” food sources exceed recommended levels.

Cholesterol is not present in plant foods like fruits, vegetables or vegetable oils. Cholesterol can’t just float loose in the water-based bloodstream. Instead, it is transported in special protein packages called lipoproteins. A typical lipoprotein contains triglycerides (another type of blood fat) and cholesterol in the center, surrounded by phospholipids and water-soluble proteins on the outer surface to help the lipids move through the watery fluids of the blood. The four types of lipoproteins differ from one another in their content of protein, triglycerides and cholesterol.

Two types of cholesterol–high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol–have become quite familiar to most people concerned with the health of their heart and blood vessels.

HDL cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol because high concentrations in the blood are associated with a low risk of heart attack. HDL contains more protein than triglycerides or cholesterol and helps remove cholesterol from artery walls. HDL carries cholesterol from body cells to the liver, either to be reused, converted to bile acids or disposed of in the bile.

LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol that’s associated with a higher risk of heart disease. LDL becomes oxidized and deposits in the walls of arteries to initiate the condition known as “atherosclerosis,” or hardening of the arteries. This condition causes 500,000 heart attacks each year. Others risk factors that may contribute to atherosclerosis are a family history of the disease, age, male sex, cigarette smoking, hypertension and diabetes mellitus.

When you get a blood test for cholesterol levels, your doctor may also check your levels of total, HDL and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. This table provides a guide to interpreting cholesterol levels, based on guidelines recently issued by the National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel.

LDL Cholesterol
Less than 100 Optimal
100 to 129 Near optimal
130 to 159 Borderline high
160 to 189 High
190 or greater Very high

Total Cholesterol
Less than 200 Desirable
200 to 239 Borderline high
240 or greater High

HDL Cholesterol
Less than 40 Low
60 or greater High

Less than 150 Optimal

To reduce both cholesterol and fat in your diet, eat no more than three servings of meat each week. And when you do, choose lean cuts such as tenderloin, flank, top round, eye of round and top sirloin.

Remove all visible fat before cooking. Remove poultry skin before cooking and focus on having more fish, such as salmon, bluefish and catfish, which are high in polyunsaturated fats and low in total fat.

Some shellfish, such as shrimp, are low in fat but rich in cholesterol and should be eaten sparingly by those with high cholesterol. Also, choose low fat milk and cheese, and low fat versions of commonly used foods, such as mayonnaise and salad dressings. Eggs are nutritious, but rich in cholesterol: Just 1-1/3 yolks contain the total daily cholesterol intake recommended by the American Heart Association. The current and general dietary recommendations is to limit total fat intake to 30 percent or less, saturated fat to less than 10 percent of calorie intake and cholesterol to less than 300 mg per day. For individuals with elevated levels of blood lipids, saturated fate intake should be less than 7 percent of calories and cholesterol intake less than 200 mg per day.

Cholesterol can be both good and bad, so it’s important to learn what cholesterol is, how it
affects your health and how to manage your blood cholesterol levels.

Understanding the facts about cholesterol will help you take better care of your heart and live a healthier life, reducing your risk for heart attack and stroke. To control your cholesterol, get a cholesterol screening, eat foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and follow all your healthcare professional’s recommendations.
Checklist for Lowering Your Cholesterol. It’s fairly easy to lower your blood cholesterol.
Just eat more foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol and cut down on high-fat ones, especially those high in saturated fats.

Here are some simple daily guidelines:

Watch your caloric intake by eating a wide variety of foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
Eat six or more servings of cereals, breads, pasta and other whole-grain products.
Eat fish, poultry without skin and leaner cuts of meat instead of fatty ones.
Eat nonfat or 1% milk dairy products rather than whole-milk dairy products.
Enjoy 30-60 minutes of vigorous activities on most (or all) days of the week. Maintain a healthy weight.

Checklist for taking medication

It’s important when taking medications to follow your healthcare professional’s recommendations carefully. When you don’t take medicine exactly as prescribed, it can be harmful to you. Without knowing it, you could counteract one medicine by taking it with another. Not taken properly, medicine can make you feel sick or dizzy.
Understand your medication. Know what it’s for, and how and when you’re supposed to take it.

Checklist for getting started on an exercise program

Wear comfortable clothes and sneakers or flat shoes with laces.
Start slowly. Gradually build up to 30 minutes of activity on most or all days of the week (or whatever your doctor recommends). If you don’t have a full 30 minutes, try two 15-minute sessions to meet your goal.
Exercise at the same time of day so it becomes a regular part of your lifestyle. For example, you might walk every weekday from noon to 12:30 p.m. Drink a cup of water before, during and after exercising (but check with the doctor, because some people need to limit their fluid intake).
Ask family and friends to join you. You’ll be more likely to stick with it.
Note your activities on a calendar or in a logbook. Write down the distance or length of time of your activity and how you feel after each session. If you miss a day, plan a make-up day or add 10-15 minutes to your next session.
Use variety to keep your interest up. Walk one day, swim the next time, and then go for a bike ride on the weekend.
Join an exercise group.
Look for chances to be more active during the day. Walk the mall before shopping, choose a flight of stairs over an escalator, or take 10-15 minute walking breaks while watching TV or sitting for some other activity.
Don’t get discouraged if you stop for awhile. Get started again gradually and work up to your old pace.
Don’t engage in any activity that causes chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness. If these happen, stop what you’re doing right away.
Don’t exercise right after meals, when it’s very hot or humid, or when you just don’t feel up to it.

Checklist for making lifestyle change

Ask your physician or healthcare professional to help you with nutrition and physical activity advice.
Learn to read food labels so you’ll be able to tell how much fat, sodium and other ingredients are in your diet.
Keep a diary of all your nutrition and physical activity efforts. When you see your successes written down, it will encourage you to continue with your good habits.
If you don’t feel like you’re making progress, talk to your physician and ask why your progress is slow.
If you’re having trouble giving up smoking, ask your physician if you’d be able to take a smoking cessation drug to help.
Become an active participant in making treatment decisions and solving problems that keep you from following the doctor’s orders.
Homoeopathy has certain remedies apart from the above discussed activities to lower the Cholesterol levels. Though the Constitution Homoeopathic remedy would be the most appropriate.

Sr.Homoeopathic Consultant
Director – OVIHAMS
Recipient- International Dr. Hahnemann Award of Millennium, Lord Dhanwantri Award, Dr.Yudhvir Singh Award,Meritrious Awrad, Appreciation Award, Life Achievemnet Award
J-158,Rajouri Garden,New Delhi 110027, India
RU – 115, Pitam Pura, New Delhi 110034
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