Understand your cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease

Understand your cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease

October 4, 2023

Do you know what your cholesterol level is and what it means for your health? Cholesterol is a fatty substance that circulates in the blood and has important functions for the body. However, when cholesterol accumulates in excess, it can cause cardiovascular problems.

It's important to know what cholesterol levels are and how to keep them healthy, but what are normal cholesterol levels?

Blood cholesterol is measured in millimoles per litre. Generally, the total cholesterol in blood should not exceed 5 mmol/l. We can consider every value above as a high cholesterol value.

Your blood test can show your total amount of cholesterol level or the levels of different types of cholesterol.

According to the Irish Heart Foundation these are the levels for an healthy adult:

• Total cholesterol:  No more than 5 mmol/l

• LDL cholesterol:  No more than 3 mmol/l

• HDL cholesterol:  More than 1 mmol/l

• Triglycerides:  No more than 2 mmol/l

Two primary kinds of cholesterol exist: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein).

HDL the "good" cholesterol

HDL cholesterol earns the label of "good" cholesterol because of its role in removing LDL cholesterol from the arteries. Your HDL cholesterol should be more than 1 mmol/l.

LDL the "bad" cholesterol

LDL cholesterol earns the name "bad" cholesterol due to its ability to accumulate in arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease. Your LDL cholesterol should be less than 3 mmol/l. If your LDL cholesterol is too high or your HDL cholesterol is too low, it's important to take steps to improve your cholesterol levels.

One way to lower LDL cholesterol is to make dietary changes. Avoiding foods high in saturated and trans fats, such as fried foods and processed snacks, can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Instead, opt for healthier fats found in foods like avocados, nuts, and olive oil.

Regular exercise is also beneficial for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Engaging in activities like brisk walking, jogging, or cycling can help raise HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol.

What about the triglycerides?

Triglycerides are another type of fat found in the blood that can contribute to high cholesterol levels. Like LDL cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides can increase the risk of heart disease. To keep triglyceride levels in check, it is important to make certain dietary and lifestyle changes.

Change lifestyle and do regular check-ups

One of the most effective ways to lower triglyceride levels is by reducing the consumption of sugary foods and beverages. These include sodas, candies, pastries, and other sweets. These sugary treats can cause a spike in triglyceride levels, so it is best to limit their intake.

In addition to cutting back on sugar, it is also important to limit the consumption of alcohol. Drinking alcohol in excess raises triglyceride levels.

Another dietary change that can help lower triglycerides is increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Also, regular exercise is also beneficial for reducing triglycerides. Engaging in aerobic activities like swimming, dancing, or playing sports can help lower triglyceride levels.

To control and reduce triglyceride levels, you can change your diet, exercise regularly, and take medication if needed. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.

Regular check-ups with your doctor are essential to monitor your cholesterol levels and overall cardiovascular health. Manage and understand cholesterol levels is the first step towards prevention of heart attack and stroke and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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