Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in European countries—causing 3.9 million deaths in Europe and over 1.8 million deaths in the European Union annually.
Among the factors that contribute to coronary heart diseases, such as obesity, smoking, low physical activity, and genetics, one is blood lipid levels. Lipids are fat-like substances found in the blood and other body tissues. The most common lipid associated with heart heart is cholesterol, followed by triglycerides.
While our bodies need cholesterol and other lipids to build healthy cells, too much cholesterol in our blood can build up on the walls of our blood vessels. These build-ups can make it difficult for blood to flow, or even break off and cause a stroke. However, not all cholesterol is bad, and knowing the difference between the types of cholesterol can help you improve your heart health!
In this article, you will learn about good and bad cholesterol. Additionally, you will learn what affects cholesterol levels and lifestyle changes you can implement to reduce your risk of heart disease.
What are the different types of cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of lipid found in our blood. They are required to develop healthy cells and produce steroid hormones like Vitamin D and bile. However, not all cholesterol types found in our bodies are good for our health.
There are two types of cholesterol:
- Good cholesterol: HDL or High-Density Lipoprotein is known as good cholesterol. HDL absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver that flushes it (cholesterol) out from the body.
- Bad cholesterol: LDL or Low-Density Lipoprotein is known as bad cholesterol. It makes up most of the cholesterol in your body and contributes to heart disease and strokes by clogging your arteries—that’s why it’s called “bad cholesterol”.
How to boost good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol in your body
Other than cholesterol synthesized by our body, some foods that we consume also contain cholesterol. This cholesterol is called “dietary cholesterol” and is only found in animal products. However, in most people, dietary cholesterol has little effect on their blood cholesterol. However, elevated levels of cholesterol in the blood can be due to consuming foods containing high levels of saturated or trans fat.
Some people may lead a very healthy lifestyle and still have high cholesterol due to genetics. However, can take the following steps to boost good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol in your body:
- Consume foods with unsaturated fat and high fibre, such as oranges, oats, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, barley, brussel sprouts, and psyllium, and oat bran.
- Engage in regular exercise and physical activity.
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid sugary, fatty, or salty snacks and deep-fried and fast foods.
- Drink reduced-fat, no-added-sugar milk, yogurt, or calcium-fortified non-dairy foods and drinks.
- Lower your intake of pork, lamb, poultry with skin, fatty beef, and saturated vegetable oils, like palm oil, coconut oil, and kernel oil.
- Eliminate or limit your intake of processed meat, including deli meat and sausages (such as salami).
How can I measure cholesterol levels?
There are different factors that can contribute to high cholesterol levels, including obesity, lifestyle choices, and genetic factors. However, high blood cholesterol has no symptoms and people will generally feel fine.
The level of cholesterol in your body can be detected through a blood test, which is known as a lipid panel or lipid profile test.
A general practitioner can provide you with information about your cholesterol levels and if any actions need to be taken. They might also perform a heart health check to calculate the risks of stroke or any heart disease.You can also choose to test your cholesterol levels at home by using Homed-IQ’s Cholesterol & Lipids Test.
By using this finger prick test, you can determine the complete lipid profile in your blood including the levels of total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. In a matter of days, a certified laboratory will examine your sample and provide you with the results. How simple is that!
Interested? Check out Homed-IQ’s Cholesterol & Lipids test here.