Cholesterol is a natural fat that we acquire with food and that our body also produces. Every day our organism generates an amount of cholesterol of about 800 mg. Half of the cholesterol found in the blood is produced by the body and the other half comes from food. That is why we must control it so that we do not get high cholesterol.
Cholesterol what is it and what are its types?
The cholesterol is not bad in itself; in fact, it is an essential lipid for many functions of our organism. It is part of plasma membranes and is a precursor of vitamin D, sex hormones, cortisol, aldosterone and bile salts.
The total cholesterol in the body is the sum of the different types of cholesteroles that exist, some of which are beneficial for health while others, in excess, suppose a cardiovascular risk factor . The beneficial cholesterol is the one that goes together with high density proteins (HDL), while the one that supposes a risk joins proteins of low or very low density (LDL and VLDL). When the level of cholesterol in blood is valued, what is being valued is the accumulation and proportion of these different types of cholesterol, so always in an analytical in which cholesterol is valued it is important to differentiate between them, mainly between cholesterol HDL and LDL.
High cholesterol risk
The main reason for wanting to lower cholesterol levels is that an excess of this in blood supposes a high cardiovascular risk. Cholesterol is deposited inside the arteries, which causes the creation of aromatherapist plaques that hinder blood circulation and increase the risk of angina or heart attack.
It is recommended that total cholesterol levels remain optimally below 200 mg / dL. The LDL cholesterol type is deposited in the arteries and increases cardiovascular risk, so it is desirable that their numbers remain below 160 mg / dl. HDL cholesterol goes to the liver for storage or excretion, so its increase supposes a decrease in cardiovascular risk by decreasing the proportion of the other type of cholesterol. It is convenient that the levels of HDL cholesterol exceed, then, 40-60 mg / dl.
Treatment of high cholesterol
Does this mean that if total cholesterol levels exceed 200 mg / dl we should take medication and worry? Worry yes, but the first action will never be the medication, but decrease the part of cholesterol that we can control, which is the exogenous. Therefore, we must change dietary habits, practice physical exercise, reach the ideal weight and abandon toxic habits such as tobacco and alcohol to lower high cholesterol.
The diet should be of Mediterranean type , including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, foods with cereals, skimmed milk, fish (preferably blue), virgin olive oil and restriction of red meat, salt, sugary soft drinks , alcohol, industrial bakery and fats of animal origin.
The physical exercise must be aerobic (running, swimming, cycling, elliptical, rowing) of moderate intensity 3-5 days a week. It is important to add physical activities in our daily life, such as climbing stairs, going to work on foot or by bicycle, doing physical activities such as dancing and avoiding prolonged sitting to lower high cholesterol.
If cholesterol levels are not modified by diet and physical activity and / or there are other cardiovascular risk factors, such as diabetes, hypertension, overweight or smoking, the doctor can assess the need to start a pharmacological treatment with statins, choosing the more suitable for the cardiovascular risk factor of the patient and helping to reduce high cholesterol.