Contributed by: Rachana Arya
Cholesterol is a necessary component of the human body that aids in the performance of numerous key processes. However, elevated levels of cholesterol put you at risk for long-term health complications, including heart disease and even heart attack. Revamping a few lifestyle habits can go a long way towards decreasing cholesterol.
Read on to get a better understanding of what high cholesterol really does to your body and its impact on your future health as we answer some of the common frequently asked questions around cholesterol.
FAQ #1: What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol, a waxy, fat-like substance occurs naturally in all regions of the body, including the brain, nerves, muscles, skin, liver, intestines, and heart. It is made by the liver which produces about 75% of your body’s cholesterol, and the rest is ingested as dietary cholesterol from the foods you eat.
FAQ #2: Why is cholesterol important?
Cholesterol is not inherently bad. Cholesterol is essential to every organ’s function and health. It is also required for the proper functioning of the brain. It helps with the formation of the cell membranes, key hormones like testosterone and estrogen, and the production of several hormones and vitamin D.
FAQ #3: Can we live without cholesterol?
You need cholesterol for your body to function normally — in fact, you can’t live without it.
FAQ #4: Why should I be concerned about high cholesterol?
When your body has too much cholesterol, you’re more likely to develop cardiovascular disorders like heart disease. Excess cholesterol in your body can accumulate in your coronary arteries. Over time, this build-up can prevent enough blood and oxygen from reaching the heart. This can result in chest pain as well as heart attacks. A blood clot can potentially block a brain artery, resulting in a stroke.
FAQ #5: How can I lower the risk of heart disease if I have high cholesterol?
You can lower your risk for heart disease by reducing your total cholesterol and low LDL levels. Although not a fast-paced process, yet you can implement these tips to lower your cholesterol naturally.
- Add monosaturated fats to your diet. These are healthy fats that help in the reduction of LDL cholesterol levels. Some of the foods that are rich in monosaturated fats include:
- Canola oil
- Olive oil
- Walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts & almonds
- Quit smoking
- Reduce alcohol intake
FAQ #6: How do I know if my cholesterol is high?
Because high cholesterol usually causes no symptoms, many people are left unaware that their cholesterol is too high. The most common symptoms that indicate high cholesterol levels include:
- Angina or chest pain
- Extreme fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Neck, jaw, upper abdominal, or back discomfort
- Tingling or numbness in your limbs
FAQ #7: How often should I get my cholesterol checked?
Your cholesterol levels should be examined every four to six years — or more frequently, if you’re at risk — starting at the age of 20. If you have a family history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, are overweight, or smoke, your doctor may recommend that you have your cholesterol checked more frequently.
FAQ #8: What health conditions or risk factors can cause high cholesterol?
Some of the health conditions that are known to increase cholesterol levels are:
Many risk factors also contribute to high cholesterol, including:
- A family history of elevated cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
- A diet rich in saturated fats
FAQ #9: At what age should I start cholesterol screening?
It is important to have your cholesterol level checked at a young age. This is because clogging of the arteries is a gradual process that takes many years. Needless to say, regulating cholesterol levels is important and total cholesterol should be measured at least every five years starting at age 20.
FAQ #10: What can I do to lower my cholesterol levels quickly?
You can lower your cholesterol levels by making certain dietary and lifestyle modifications. Here are some tips:
- Limit consumption of foods with less fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol
- Go easy on red meats
- Avoid fried foods
- Be careful while consuming packed food
- Increase daily intake of fruits and vegetables
- Eat whole grains and high fiber food
- Get regular exercise each day
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Avoid junk food
- Replace high calories or sugar beverages with water or green tea
FAQ #11: How is high cholesterol diagnosed?
Identifying if you have high cholesterol — and getting treated, if you do — is vital, because higher levels mean you’re more likely to develop heart disease than people who don’t. A simple blood test, known as a lipid panel or lipid profile is used to measure four main types of fats (lipids) in your blood. The test calculates the total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides levels in the body.
FAQ #12: Can Ayurveda treat high cholesterol?
Two naturally found Ayurvedic herbs that are commonly used in cholesterol medication are Guggul and Arjuna. Apart from these, you can also include herbs like Shilajit, Vrikshamla, Haritaki that assist in lowering blood pressure. Garlic is also said to be the most effective in lowering cholesterol levels.
Reducing cholesterol levels is not very challenging but is vital for your heart health and overall well-being. We hope this ‘FAQ Diaries’ episode was able to address your questions and queries about cholesterol. However, if you feel the symptoms of high cholesterol, it’s best to get your cholesterol levels checked, ASAP.
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