Cholesterol is a substance that is required by the body for its regular functioning. It is responsible for the production of bile acids, Vitamin D, and some hormones.
Cholesterol is carried in the blood stream and is a fatty wax like substance. An excess amount of cholesterol is not good for the heart as this causes the wax like substance to clog the arteries, leading to heart disease.
The amount of cholesterol in the body is measured using a lipid profile test, also called a cholesterol test. There are three types of cholesterol: LDL, HDL, and VLDL.
The LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is not good for the body and is the primary cause of heart diseases. It is also called the bad cholesterol. An LDL cholesterol value less than 100mg/Dl is considered to be normal, and anything above 130 mg/Dl is high. High LDL cholesterol values indicate a high risk of heart disease.
The HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is good for the body as it basically is composed of proteins and helps in reducing LDL cholesterol. It is known as the good cholesterol. An HDL cholesterol value of 60 mg/Dl or higher is considered to be very good for the heart, whereas anything below 40mg/Dl can increase the risk of heart disease.
The third type of cholesterol is called VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. It is basically the amount of fat that is contained in the blood in the form of triglycerides. VLDL is also considered to be bad. VLDL cholesterol are synonymous with triglyceride levels, and are considered to be normal if the value is less than 150 mg/Dl. Levels above 150 mg/Dl are considered to be high and can increase the risk of heart disease.
A cholesterol health check also gives a summary of the total cholesterol, which is a sum of the LDL, HDL, and VLDL cholesterol values. Cholesterol levels of 240mg/Dl or higher are considered unhealthy and can be an indication of biliary cirrhosis, familial hyperlipidimeas, high fat diet intake, hypothyroidism, nephritic syndrome, and diabetes.
Cholesterol levels lesser than 200 mg/DL may be an indication of conditions like hyperthyroidism, liver disease, malabsorption, malnutrition, pernicious anemia, and sepsis.
Trans fats and saturated fats are two of the key contributors to bad cholesterol. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as red meat, egg yolk, poultry skin, and dairy products such as whole milk and cheese. Saturated fats are also found in vegetable products such as coconut, coconut oil, palm, and palm oil. Trans fats are unsaturated fats that are made solid by hydrogenation. Hydrogenated vegetable oils and foods that are cooked in them are high in trans fats. Some of the snack foods like French fries, onion rings, and potato chips can be high in trans fats.
Reducing the intake of foods that are cooked in trans fats and reducing the consumption of foods that contain saturated fats can help in the reduction of bad HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.