What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a wax-like substance made in the liver. It is also found in foods such as meat and dairy products. The body needs the substance for various functions such as producing hormones, acid and building cell walls. However, too much may cause fatty deposits, known as plague to build up in the arteries and may lead to heart disease. One of the biggest problems with high cholesterol is that there are no noticeable cholesterol symptoms, so most people aren’t even aware that they have high levels. A blood test can determine the levels of these fats. Everyone should have their levels tested approximately every 2 years. If a person is found to have high cholesterol symptoms, the levels should be monitored on a regular basis. There are two types of cholesterol and it is important to understand the difference between the two. LDL (low density lipoprotein) is bad because elevated levels can lead to coronary artery disease. HDL (high density lipoprotein) is good because it can remove and prevent LDL from lodging in the walls of arteries. Testing measures both LDL and HDL levels. The tests often confirm high levels although the person was completely unaware of high cholesterol symptoms.
Do I have A Healthy Cholesterol Level?
Healthy levels should remain under 200. Levels between 200 and 239 are considered bordering on high and levels above 240 are high cholesterol. Elevated levels of this fatty substance can cause narrowing and hardening of the arteries, increasing a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke. There are other risk factors that combined with high cholesterol can put a person’s health in jeopardy. These other risk factors include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, diet and more. There are also other factors that affect these levels such as age, gender, heredity and a lack of exercise. People should also be tested for high triglycerides as well when their cholesterol levels are tested. Triglycerides are a form of fat in the blood that the body converts for energy but when triglyceride levels are too high, there is a risk for heart disease. Levels above 150 are slightly elevated whereas levels between 200 and 499 are high. Levels above 500 are considered extremely high. Changes in diet and lifestyle, such as not smoking can lower triglyceride levels. Medication can also be prescribed if necessary.
What Should I Do?
Although there are medications that can be prescribed as a cholesterol treatment, it is important to make lifestyle changes to maintain proper levels and improve health. Smokers should stop smoking and seek their physician’s assistance if necessary to eliminate the unhealthy habit. People who are overweight should seek their doctor’s advice and recommendations on a diet and exercise plan. Tran-saturated fats that are found in food products such as margarine should be eliminated from the diet. Cut back on dairy products and meat, especially organ meat. Choose lean cuts of meat to avoid unnecessary fat. Fish is a healthy meat substitute. Add more whole grains, fruits and vegetables to the diet. Prepare low-fat meals. Consume less alcohol. Exercise on a regular basis. Even a brisk daily walk can help to lower high fatty levels in the body. Consult a physician for options. The physician will determine if medication is a necessary alternative for an individual’s cholesterol treatment plan.
Is There A Link Between Dietary Cholesterol & Cancer?
In the past research has not shown a direct link between dietary cholesterol and cancer risk. Despite this, a high cholesterol diet can still play a major role in the development of cancerous cells. A diet high in cholesterol will often consist of foods that will affect your cancer risk. Some examples might include:
Red and Processed Meats:
Eating high amounts of red and processed meats has been proven to increase your cancer risk. Substituting some of your meats for plant-based foods will help lower your cholesterol and in turn lower your risk of cancer.
Dairy products can be mixed. Currently there is research suggesting there is a link between diets high in calcium and increased risk for prostate cancer.
Also high in cholesterol are pastries and baked goods. It is recommended that these types of foods be limited. For further dietary information and nutritional advice, see The Leaders in Oncology Care’s website for their full dietary plan.