How to tame a beast called cholesterol | Lifestyle News – The Indian Express

Cholesterol, a waxy substance found in our blood, is an extremely essential element for the body to ensure its smooth functioning. It assists in developing new cells, strengthening metabolic functions, producing vitamins and other hormones such as testosterone, oestrogen and adrenal hormones that are vital for our body and good health. So, you need to maintain a certain level of cholesterol in your body. However, excess amounts can be problematic and pose a threat.

Usually, your liver produces the amount of cholesterol you need. Also, your body gets cholesterol from the food you eat, especially meat, poultry and dairy products. When your body doesn’t digest this excess amount of cholesterol, it causes the development of fatty deposits in your blood vessels, creating difficulties for the body to maintain smooth blood circulation through your arteries. This situation results in cardiovascular diseases, making you prone to heart disease and stroke. To avoid such situations, you need to understand your cholesterol level and work to maintain a healthy level. Besides, South Asians are more prone to imbalances because of genetic risks, lack of physical activity and sub-optimal dietary habits.


Maintaining a healthy level of body cholesterol begins with understanding your cholesterol level. Ideally every adult, aged 20 or above, should go for cholesterol check-up after four to six years. In case of health complications, your doctor may seek quick examinations.

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A blood test called lipid profile or lipid panel is performed to measure your cholesterol level. It gives exact figures of High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), triglycerides and total blood (or serum) cholesterol.

HDL, the good lipoprotein, takes excess cholesterol to the liver which makes it harmless. The LDL, or the bad one, transports cholesterol throughout your body, piling it up in arteries and obstructing blood circulation. Triglyceride is a type of fat in the blood that increases your risk of developing heart diseases.


There are myriad risk factors that make you vulnerable to unhealthy cholesterol levels. Your poor dietary habits are a major reason. For instance, your body produces adequate LDL. But when you consume unhealthy food such as too much saturated fat or trans fats, it produces more LDL. Similarly, lack of physical activities, obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption and age could be the prominent risk factors.

Also, sometimes, your genes can be the reason behind your unhealthy levels of cholesterol. You may inherit it from your close family members. This situation is called Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH). Additionally, certain health conditions such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, HIV, hypothyroidism and liver diseases affect your cholesterol level.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a cholesterol level between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline. Above 240 mg/dL is considered high. It is safe to keep your LDL below 100 mg/dL, HDL more than 40 mg/dL and triglycerides less than 150 mg/dL.

An HDL (good) cholesterol of 40 or less (mg/dL) is considered a risk factor for heart disease among non-South Asians. However, for South Asians, the HDL goal should be 50-60, given their elevated risk. For every 10 point increase in HDL, one is able to decrease their risk for heart disease by half.


Your lifestyle is the most important factor that needs rethinking. Right from eating habits to physical activities to regular checkups, you need to make some changes to lower the risk of abnormal levels of cholesterol. We are too used to what I call CRAP (calorie rich and processed) food. You must reduce the consumption of saturated fat and trans fats, increase the intake of food items rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and add whey protein.You can take chicken, fish and egg whites as part of meals on alternate days. Avoid prawns, crabs and red meat and limit yourself to very ocassional indulgence. Besides, you should increase your physical activities which help raise HDL cholesterol. Similarly, if you quit smoking, you add to the production of HDL. If you drink, you can consider keeping the frequency moderate.

Briefly, those with increased LDL levels (bad cholesterol) should restrict saturated fat to <7% of calories and cholesterol intake to <200 mg/day. In addition, increasing soluble (viscous) fibre through dietary strategies such as increasing oats or psyllium as well as fruits and vegetables can decrease bad cholesterol.

Physical activity is important for weight management and healthy living. South Asians are at high risk for abdominal obesity which increases total cholesterol levels and multiplies the risk for diabetes. An abdominal circumference of 32 inches or greater in women and 36 inches or greater in men is the cutoff for obesity. In addition, the BMI cutoff (body mass index calculated as total body weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared) for obesity in South Asians is 23 or higher (versus 25 or greater in the general population). Remember physical activity doesn’t need to require too much strain and can include walking.

In case you are at the borderline of heart-related health risks due to uncontrolled cholesterol levels, your doctor may suggest some medicine. You should strictly follow your doctor’s prescribed medication only.

A very important fact to keep in mind is that those with unhealthy cholesterol levels don’t show any symptoms. You only face sudden health emergencies. To avoid such circumstances, maintaining a healthy cholesterol level should be your priority.

If You Notice This on Your Body, Have Your Cholesterol Checked — Eat This Not That – Eat This, Not That

Are you concerned about cholesterol levels being too high? “There are two types of cholesterol: ‘good’ [HDL] and ‘bad’ [LDL]. It’s important to understand the difference, and to know the levels of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol in your blood,” says Suzanne Steinbaum, MD, Director, Women and Heart Disease with the Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “Too much of one type — or not enough of another — can put you at risk for coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke.” Here are five signs you need to get your cholesterol levels checked. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.

belly fat, tape measure

Excessive abdominal fat—also known as visceral fat, or belly fat—is linked to high cholesterol, doctors warn. “The fat around the belly is particularly metabolically active, meaning that it produces a number of factors that increase the risks for heart disease,” says Paula Johnson MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Asian young woman feeling discomfort as suffering from heartburn holding chest with closed eyes and sitting with folded legs on couch at home.

Buildup of plaque in your arteries could cause chest pain and trouble breathing. “That is the most common presenting symptom,” says Vallerie McLaughlin, MD, director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. “The right side of the heart is having trouble pushing blood flow through the lungs — and it’s not getting to the left side of the heart and body. It puts strain on the right side of the heart, which is not used to pushing against the high pressure.”

woman touching her neck, skincare, looking in bathroom mirror

Yellow growths on skin called xanthomas could be a sign of high cholesterol. “Xanthomas are localized lipid deposits in the skin, tendons, and subcutaneous tissue associated with a lipid abnormality,” say Jeffrey S. Henning, MAJ, MC, and Michael G. Fazio, CPT, MC. “They are clinically classified as eruptive, planar, tuberous, or tendinous. Eruptive xanthomas are the most common type and appear as crops of discrete yellowish papules that may have erythematous bases. They often appear in areas subject to pressure or trauma, such as the buttocks, extensor surfaces, and flexural creases.”

shred belly fat

Being overweight or obese is strongly associated with high cholesterol, experts warn. “If you are obese and have high cholesterol, losing weight should help lower your cholesterol, as well as your risk for other obesity-related conditions including diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Man and woman holding their bellies while sitting on the bed suffering from extra weight.

Even with no outward signs of high cholesterol, a family history of hyperlipidemia could raise your risk. “Oftentimes, one of the biggest factors that determines your cholesterol levels is your genes,” says Kate Kirley, MD. “How your genes affect your cholesterol is pretty complicated, but it’s safe to say that high cholesterol tends to run in families. For most people, genetic testing isn’t necessary or helpful unless they have very high cholesterol levels. And because genes are something we can’t change this is why medications are an important tool for treating high cholesterol.”

Ferozan Mast

Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more

The #1 Signal Your Cholesterol is “Dangerously High” — Eat This Not That – Eat This, Not That

High cholesterol might not make as many headlines as other health issues, but it’s a serious concern that affects an alarming amount of people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Nearly 94 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL. Twenty-eight million adults in the United States have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL.” In addition, the CDC states, “7% of U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 have high total cholesterol.” If left untreated high cholesterol can cause major health complications so knowing the signs and getting your cholesterol checked is vital for your overall well-being. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Laura Purdy, MD, MBA, ‘America’s Doctor’, Licensed to practice in all 50 states, Physician Executive, Psychologist, Digital Health Evangelist, Veteran who shares what symptoms of high cholesterol to look out for and why cholesterol is important. As always, please consult your physician for medical advice. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.

closeup doctor's hand holding blood sample for cholesterol

Dr. Purdy tells us, “Cholesterol is a type of fatty molecule That circulates in the bloodstream. It usually comes from breaking down fatty molecules in the diet, but some people can have genetic or familiar conditions that cause their body to have a higher than average level in the body. There are a couple of different types of cholesterol, and we often talk about them in terms of good cholesterol or bad cholesterol. Good cholesterol is another term for HDL, which stands for high density lipoprotein. This particular type of cholesterol helps to remove other harmful types of cholesterol out of the body. LDL, which stands for low density lipoprotein, is the type of bad cholesterol that we often want to lower to prevent risk for cardiovascular disease. This type of cholesterol can contribute to plaque formation in the arteries inside of our bodies which can predispose us to outcomes such as heart attack and stroke. So it is important for us to understand the differences between the two types of cholesterol especially when it comes to long-term health.”


Dr. Purdy says, “High cholesterol is a very inflammatory state within the body. Many of our bodily organs are negatively impacted by high cholesterol. They can result in plaque buildup and narrowing of some of the important arteries in the body, such as in the heart, aorta, and the neck. This can increase someone’s risk of having bad outcomes of narrowing of these by vessels, such as heart attacks, aneurysms, or strokes. High cholesterol occurs commonly with other medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.”

man eating a burger

According to Dr. Purdy, “There are certain types of high cholesterol that are genetic and run in families. For these people, even having a healthy diet, exercising, and having a healthy body mass index does not lower their cholesterol and they need to take medication to lower the cholesterol and prevent their long-term risk of heart attack and stroke. For other people, and is more commonly seen, high cholesterol is a result of dietary and lifestyle choices. Eating high fat foods, Obesity, cigarette smoking, and diabetes Are among the different types of risk factors that can increase someone’s likelihood of having high cholesterol.”


“Some people who have high cholesterol will develop xanthomas, which are deposits or little tumors of cholesterol seen in certain parts of the body,” says Dr. Purdy. “They look like small, waxy, yellowish bumps and are very commonly seen underneath the eyes but can’t be on a wide range of body parts. Xanthomas are a physical manifestation Of high cholesterol and people who have these types of small skin tumors should have bloodwork done to check.”

Young woman suffering from breathing problem near window indoors.

Dr. Purdy explains, “Heart attacks and coronary artery disease are common in the fifth, sixth, seventh decade of life and beyond. It usually takes this long for people to develop coronary artery disease after a lifetime of being exposed to risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, and obesity. However, When heart disease occurs in young people, especially in many young members of the same family, this is a clue that the family may have a predisposition to genetically elevated high cholesterol. People who have family members experiencing heart attacks in their 20s or 30s should be evaluated for genetic elevated cholesterol. It’s important to identify this as soon as possible so that medication can be started to lower cholesterol and prevent early heart attacks.”

Doctor talking with an obese woman and measuring her.

Dr. Purdy says, “Obesity is very stressful for the body, and causes several medical conditions including high cholesterol. There is a much higher percentage of elevated cholesterol in people who are overweight or obese than people who are not. This is even the case for children and adolescents, not just adults. For this reason, it is recommended that adults, teenagers, and children who have an overweight or obese BMI have screening blood work done as a part of their annual physical to assess their levels of cholesterol.”

Heather Newgen

Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more

Cholesterol levels in chicken — by part and mode of preparation – Medical News Today

Cholesterol is necessary for healthy body function, but too much can cause serious health problems. Eating chicken as part of a balanced diet can help control cholesterol levels, but it depends on the part of the chicken a person consumes and how they prepare it.

The liver naturally produces cholesterol in adequate amounts to fuel cell growth and hormone production, among other processes. Humans take in additional cholesterol through their diet. Dairy and meat, including poultry, all have cholesterol, which can potentially increase levels to unhealthy ranges.

Chicken is typically a lean meat with a low fat content. However, the level of cholesterol that chicken contains varies according to the part that people consume, whether the skin is present, and how a person prepares it.

This article will explore:

  • the function of cholesterol in the body
  • the health hazards of too much cholesterol
  • the cholesterol content of chicken by part
  • cholesterol levels in popular chicken dishes
  • how to lower cholesterol

Cholesterol exists in every cell of the body. The body uses it to produce hormones and vitamins and to digest foods. The body produces all the cholesterol it needs in the liver, but humans also consume dietary cholesterol through food.

When too much cholesterol enters the bloodstream, it mixes with other products and forms artery-blocking plaques. This plaque can contribute to blood clots, angina, heart attack, stroke, carotid artery disease, and peripheral artery disease.

Several factors can increase the risk of high cholesterol. It can run in families, so hereditary factors may play a role. Race can also be a factor. Black Americans often have higher cholesterol levels than white Americans, as racism, environmental stressors, and other social determinants of health can affect people in numerous ways.

Carrying excess body weight also increases a person’s risk of developing high cholesterol. Cholesterol levels usually get higher as people age.

Chicken is a lean meat if a person removes its skin. The skin on chicken can contain 80% of its total fat calories. Cholesterol levels vary by the portion of chicken a person consumes. If an individual is looking for the leanest portion of meat, they should opt for the breast.

Cholesterol levels of each part of the chicken (raw):

  • breast, 100 grams (g), without skin: 73 milligrams (mg)
  • breast, 100 g with skin: 64 mg
  • thigh, 100 g, with skin: 98 mg
  • thigh, 100 g without skin: 94 mg
  • leg, 100 g with skin: 93 mg
  • leg, 100 g, without skin: 91 mg
  • wing, 100 g: 111 mg
  • back, 100 g, meat only: 81 mg

Although cholesterol is important in the body, too much can have detrimental effects. For this reason, eating a low cholesterol diet is important for anyone interested in managing their cholesterol intake.

How a person prepares chicken can affect the amount of cholesterol it contains. For example, the same piece of chicken will have different cholesterol content depending on whether someone cooks it on a grill or breads it and fries it in oil.

Here are a few of the most popular ways to prepare chicken and their average cholesterol content:

  • fried chicken, meat only, no skin 100 g: 94 mg
  • fried chicken, meat and skin, with flour, 100 g: 90 mg
  • roasted chicken, meat only, 100 g: 75 mg
  • roasted chicken, meat and skin, 100 g: 76 mg
  • grilled chicken, no skin, 100 g: 104 mg

There are lifestyle and medication options to lower a person’s cholesterol. A doctor may prescribe a combination of both if high cholesterol is a concern or if someone has a diagnosis of high cholesterol.

Lifestyle considerations include:

  • Diet: Limiting saturated fats and trans fats can help reduce cholesterol. Following a diet that is rich in a variety of nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats, can also help.
  • Maintaining moderate weight: Carrying excess weight and having a waist measurement over 40 inches for males and 35 inches for females creates increased risk factors. A combination of reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, high triglycerides, and increased weight puts an individual at risk for metabolic syndrome. This is a group of conditions that increases the risk of stroke, diabetes, and coronary heart disease.
  • Activity: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.
  • Managing stress: Regular or chronic stress can increase levels of “bad” cholesterol in the cardiovascular system and lower levels of “good” cholesterol.
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking has many detrimental health effects, including raising levels of HDL, or bad cholesterol, and lowering low-density lipoprotein, or good cholesterol.

For some, medication is necessary to further supplement a treatment plan. For those with a diagnosis of familial hypercholesterolemia, an inherited form of high cholesterol, there is also a treatment called lipoprotein apheresis. During this treatment, a machine filters LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream and filters the blood back into the body.

Cholesterol forms in the body through liver function, but humans also obtain it from the food they eat. While chicken is a low fat food, it still contains cholesterol. Which part of the chicken someone consumes and how they prepare it can greatly impact how much it contains.

Chicken breasts are generally the portion of the bird featuring the lowest cholesterol content, but preparation and cooking methods can affect the amounts.

To manage cholesterol, an individual can make dietary and exercise changes, weight management, quit smoking if applicable, and manage stress. If these lifestyle management tools are not enough, there are medications and other medical interventions a person can try.

Tips to manage your cholesterol – Nebraska City News Press – Nebraska City News Press

Cholesterol is a complex topic that can be difficult to understand. Cholesterol is present in the body and it also can be found in food. That can make it hard for people to understand why cholesterol is often seen in such a negative light. Any confusion surrounding cholesterol can serve as the perfect springboard to learn more about it.

What is cholesterol?

A waxy, chemical compound, cholesterol often gets a bad rap. However, the American Heart Association says it is actually needed to build cells. The liver makes all the cholesterol a person needs. Additional cholesterol comes from diet.

There are two types of cholesterol carried through the blood. Low-density liproprotein (LDL) transports cholesterol particles throughout the body. This is considered “bad” cholesterol because it can build up in the walls of the arteries. High-density liproprotein (HDL) picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to the liver, which is why it is considered “good” cholesterol.

In terms of measuring cholesterol, a total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL is desirable. High HDL numbers are best, and any amount less than 40 mg/dL is a red flag. In regard to LDL, less than 100 mg/dL is optimal.

Why is cholesterol sometimes concerning?

When present in the right amounts, cholesterol is instrumental in building healthy cells. When there is too much bad cholesterol in the blood, that can pose a problem. That’s because it can increase risk for heart disease, warns the Mayo Clinic.

In high amounts, LDL cholesterol can deposit fatty residue in the blood vessels. These deposits will grow over time and harden, blocking off the flow of blood through the arteries and making vessels less flexible, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Sometimes cholesterol deposits break off suddenly from the walls of blood vessels and then form a clot that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

In addition to cholesterol, doctors will measure triglycerides during lipid profiles. The Mayo Clinic says triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood. Having high triglyceride levels also can increase risk for heart disease.

Managing cholesterol levels

High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease, though it is controllable. By making some changes and being cognizant of cholesterol numbers, individuals can improve their overall health significantly.

It is important that individuals know the baseline numbers in their lipid profile, including HDL, LDL and triglyceride levels. Doctors may differ in their interpretations of how cholesterol levels factor into the bigger picture of a person’s lifestyle and overall health. But people can still do their best to keep bad cholesterol levels down.

· Make changes to a diet to reduce consumption of foods high in saturated fats, trans fats and animal proteins.

· Reduce weight to have a body mass index lower than 30.

· Increase exercise, which will help boost HDL naturally.

· Quit smoking, which can lower levels of HDL.

· Consume alcohol in moderation. Alcohol tends to increase total cholesterol levels.

Individuals are urged to speak to their doctors if they have concerns about cholesterol.

What causes low cholesterol? Symptoms and treatment – Medical News Today

Low cholesterol, or hypolipidemia, occurs when a person has unusually low cholesterol levels in their blood. Excess weight, insulin, and smoking can cause low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol.

People can also have low levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. Despite the name, the body needs some LDL cholesterol to function. Very low cholesterol levels may be a sign of an underlying disease.

Some potential causes of low overall or LDL cholesterol include chronic infections, inflammation, and malnourishment.

Read on to learn more about what causes low cholesterol.

HDL is beneficial cholesterol. Some common causes of low HDL cholesterol include:

Losing weight and quitting smoking may help bring HDL cholesterol to a satisfactory level.

Less commonly, an underlying medical condition may lower HDL cholesterol:

  • APOA1 deficiency: This rare genetic condition affects the APOA1 gene, which is responsible for encoding a protein that forms HDL cholesterol. People with an APOA1 deficiency cannot make as much HDL cholesterol as others.
  • Tangier disease: This is a type of APOA1 deficiency. It causes low or no HDL and low LDL.
  • Familial combined hyperlipidemia (FCH): This is a fairly common disorder that causes low HDL but very high LDL and triglycerides. Scientists believe it occurs due to changes in multiple genes and environmental factors, such as diet and lifestyle.

Learn more about high HDL cholesterol levels here.

LDL cholesterol is informally known as “bad” cholesterol. Usually, doctors encourage people to lower LDL cholesterol levels. However, when LDL levels fall below 50 milligramsperdeciliter(mg/dL) of blood, this may signal a health problem or cause symptoms.

Low LDL cholesterol is less common than low HDL cholesterol. Typically, it is secondary to another medical condition, such as:

Three genetic disorders may cause low LDL cholesterol:

  • Hypobetalipoproteinemia: A person must inherit two copies of a gene for this condition to develop. It causes the body to metabolize LDL very quickly. Some people with this disorder have no detectable levels of LDL and need treatment. Others have low but detectable LDL levels and do not usually need treatment.
  • Chylomicron retention disease: To develop this condition, a person has to inherit two copies of a certain gene – one from each parent. Symptoms usually present in infancy and can cause nutritional malabsorption, failure to thrive, and fatty stools. It is also known as Anderson’s disease.
  • Abetalipoproteinemia: This condition, also known as Bassen-Kornzweig syndrome, means a person cannot absorb fat from their diet. Babies usually show symptoms and may have a very low weight, intellectual disabilities, and failure to thrive.

Low LDL cholesterol may also occur if a person is taking cholesterol-lowering medication.

Learn more about LDL cholesterol here.

People with low cholesterol will not necessarily have symptoms. When they do, those symptoms may be from the low cholesterol itself or from the underlying disease that is causing low cholesterol.

Some potential symptoms of low cholesterol include:

  • fatty stool
  • depression
  • vision changes
  • hormonal imbalances
  • weight loss or failure to thrive in babies
  • intellectual disabilities or cognitive impairments in children

Learn about the ratio of cholesterol in the body here.

HDL cholesterol protects against the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. People with low HDL cholesterol may have high LDL cholesterol or high total cholesterol. This increases their risk of heart disease.

Low overall cholesterol has different effects. Cholesterol helps the body make vitamin D, steroid hormones, such as cortisol, and sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. Low cholesterol levels may affect the synthesis of these chemicals.

It also helps the body produce the bile necessary for digestion and absorption of vitamins A, K, E, and D and helps form the cell membrane of each cell in the body.

Without cholesterol, many bodily functions may not work as well. This can affect metabolism, nutritional status, and mental and physical health.

Learn more about vitamins and their function here.

Most laboratories determine a person has hypolipidemia if there is less than 120 mg/dL of cholesterol in their blood or less than 50 mg/dL of LDL cholesterol.

Doctors test cholesterol with a lipid panel. This is a blood test that measures concentrations of lipids, including cholesterol, in the blood.

The typical ranges for cholesterol in adults are as follows:

A doctor may recommend additional tests, such as tests for genetic disorders or infections, to find the underlying cause of low cholesterol.

Learn more about lipid tests here.

Treatment for low cholesterol depends on the type of low cholesterol a person has and what caused it.

Low HDL often gets better with lifestyle changes such as:

  • quitting smoking
  • attaining a moderate weight
  • becoming more physically active

Low LDL cholesterol may require treatment if a person has symptoms or an underlying genetic disorder. Treatment for the genetic disorders that cause low LDL cholesterol may include taking vitamin E supplements and other fat-soluble vitamins. Sometimes, a doctor may recommend supplementing the diet with more fat.

Learn more about LDL cholesterol here.

Some questions to ask a doctor include:

  • Is my cholesterol too low?
  • Does it require treatment?
  • Will any diet or lifestyle changes help?
  • Could my medication be causing low cholesterol?
  • Is low cholesterol responsible for my symptoms?
  • What are the most likely explanations for my low cholesterol?
  • Are there additional tests we can do to find the root cause?

Low HDL cholesterol is relatively common. It may be due to lifestyle or a medical condition. Low LDL or overall cholesterol is less common and may signal an underlying medical condition or a genetic disorder.

The effects of and treatment for low cholesterol depend on its cause. Talk with a doctor about treatment, diagnosis, and management.

What is the function of cholesterol in the body? – Medical News Today

Although much of the discussion around cholesterol focuses on its negative effects and association with heart disease, it still serves several important purposes in the body.

There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol is what many people think of and refer to as “bad” cholesterol. HDL is the kind that people consider “good” cholesterol.

Too much LDL cholesterol in the blood can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries. When this occurs, it can lead to cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke.

Cholesterol plays an important role in several bodily functions, which means a person needs some cholesterol in their system to function properly. This article reviews the functions that cholesterol helps with, as well as the different types of cholesterol, the screening process, and normal levels.

Cholesterol helps with several functions in the body. It circulates throughout the body in the blood and is found in every cell.

The body uses cholesterol to:

  • help build new tissue and repair damage to existing tissue
  • produce steroid hormones, including estrogen
  • help create bile in the liver
  • aides in production of vitamin D

However, too much cholesterol can lead to potentially fatal conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and kidney issues.

Cholesterol is a type of lipid or fat that the liver produces. Cholesterol circulates throughout the body and goes wherever the body needs it.

There are two types of cholesterol, they include:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol: Doctors often refer to this as “bad” cholesterol. It can cause a build up of plaque in the arteries, which can cause them to stiffen and become blocked.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol: Doctors often refer to HDL as “good” cholesterol. It can help lower the level of bad cholesterol in the body. It does this by transporting the LDL cholesterol back to the liver, where the body breaks it down and releases it. However, HDL only eliminates about 1/4 to 1/3 of the LDL cholesterol.

Triglycerides also play an important role in understanding the potential negative effects of LDL cholesterol on the body. Triglycerides are the most common form of fat found in the body. They come from stored energy from the foods a person consumes.

High triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels, combined with low levels of HDL cholesterol, are associated with the buildup of plaque in the arteries and a higher risk of stroke and heart attack.

To check cholesterol levels, a doctor orders a blood test known as the lipid profile or lipid panel. The panel can help determine a person’s 10-year risk for a heart attack or stroke.

The test checks a person’s levels of:

  • LDL cholesterol
  • HDL cholesterol
  • triglycerides
  • total cholesterol levels

Higher LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, or overall cholesterol levels could indicate a person has an elevated risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a person receive a cholesterol level screening once every 4 to 6 years for people over the age of 20 with no risk factors. People with higher risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease may need more frequent screenings.

The test is a noninvasive blood draw that a doctor may perform at a lab, hospital, or office. It requires a person to fast for 9–12 hours prior to the test, so people often do them in the morning before they have had food.

A tech will take a blood sample and send it for analysis at the lab. The lab will then return the lipid profile to the person’s doctor, who will go over the results with them over the phone or at a follow-up appointment.

In some cases, a person may be able to access their lipid profile through an online chart. They should ask their healthcare professional if they have a system they can log into to see their results.

After analysis, a lab will send a person’s doctor a report detailing their cholesterol levels. According to the Adult Treatment Panel III, the standard levels reported in a lipid profile include:

LDL cholesterol level

  • optimal: less than 100 mg/ dL
  • near optimal/above optimal: 100 to 129 mg/dL
  • borderline high: 130 to 159 mg/dL
  • high: 160 to 189 mg/dL
  • very high: greater than 190 mg/dL

HDL cholesterol level

  • low: less than 40
  • high: greater than or equal to 60

Fasting triglyceride level

  • normal: less than 150 milligram(m)/deciliter (dL)
  • mild high hypertriglyceridemia (elevated fat levels): 150 to 499 mg/dL
  • moderate hypertriglyceridemia: 500 to 886 mg/dL
  • very high or severe hypertriglyceridemia: greater than 886 mg/dL

In addition to the lipid profile, a doctor will use other factors to help assess a person’s 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease. They include:

Cholesterol helps with various bodily functions, including cell building and repair, bile production, and hormone production.

When kept at normal levels, a person has one less risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease.

If cholesterol levels are high, the person has an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

A person should have their doctor test their cholesterol levels every few years to determine if they are within the typical healthy range.

Structure of cholesterol: What it is, function, and types – Medical News Today

Cholesterol comprises carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. It is a waxy, fatty substance that is solid and white or light yellow.

The nature of atoms means that cholesterol cannot mix well with water, meaning it cannot travel through the bloodstream unless it combines with proteins. The combination of proteins with cholesterol is called lipoproteins.

Cholesterol has several functions. It is an important component of the cell membrane, and the body uses it to make bile salts, vitamin D, and hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone.

Read more to learn more about the structure of cholesterol, its types, and its function.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that:

  • is white or faint yellow
  • is almost odorless
  • has a solid rather than liquid consistency

The body needs cholesterol to maintain a person’s health, but only in limited amounts.

Although the liver makes its own cholesterol, people can also consume it through animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy.

The body makes all the cholesterol it needs, so health experts recommend eating as little dietary cholesterol as possible. Research links diets with less cholesterol to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

The chemical formula of cholesterol is C27H46O. This means it consists of 27 atoms of carbon, 46 atoms of hydrogen, and one atom of oxygen.

Cholesterol’s structure consists of:

  • a central sterol nucleus of four hydrocarbon rings, which are hydrogen and carbon atoms with a circular arrangement
  • a hydrocarbon tail, a chain of hydrogen and carbon atoms at the end of a molecule
  • a hydroxyl group, which is one hydrogen atom bonded to one oxygen atom

The four hydrocarbon rings join together in the middle of the compound. The hydrocarbon tail attaches to one end, and the hydroxyl group attaches to the other.

Both the sterol nucleus and hydrocarbon tail do not mix with water, so this structure cannot travel through the bloodstream alone. For this reason, cholesterol combines with proteins to create lipoproteins, which can travel through the blood to reach cells that need them.

Although people generally believe cholesterol is harmful, it has several important roles, including:

  • A cell membrane component: Cholesterol is an important part of the cell membrane structure. It changes the fluid in the membrane, which can affect the internal cell environment. It also fosters transportation within the cell.
  • A digestive aid: Cholesterol is a component of bile salt. The digestive system uses this to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • A precursor for important bodily substances: The body uses cholesterol to make:
    • vitamin D, which plays a role in bone health
    • steroid hormones, such as cortisol, which help the body respond to stress
    • reproductive system hormones such as estrogen and testosterone

Cholesterol also plays a role in the immune system and brain synapses. These are points of contact between nerve cells in the brain.

There are two primary types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). While people often refer to LDL as “bad” cholesterol, HDL is known as “good” cholesterol.

Most of the body’s cholesterol is LDL. High levels of LDL can cause fatty deposits called plaque to accumulate in the walls of blood vessels. Over time, this can cause the narrowing of the arteries, blocking blood flow and increasing a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke.

High LDL may stem from a combination of genetic factors and lifestyle habits.

Conversely, HDL reduces the buildup of plaque in blood vessels. It absorbs cholesterol and brings it to the liver, which removes it from the body.

Having high levels of HDL can reduce a person’s risk of a heart attack and stroke.

The structure of cholesterol consists of a central portion of four hydrocarbon rings that join together with a hydrocarbon tail on one end and a hydroxy group on the other. Because the structure does not mix well with water, proteins combine with cholesterol to form lipoproteins, allowing them to travel through the bloodstream.

While cholesterol serves essential functions, the body makes all that it needs. Therefore, experts recommend consuming as little dietary cholesterol as possible.

Can bergamot help reduce cholesterol? – Medical News Today

Bergamot is a yellow citrus fruit native to the southern region of Italy. The fruit contains many natural substances that may be beneficial for health. While more research is necessary, some evidence suggests bergamot can help lower cholesterol.

Also known as Citrus bergamia, bergamot is a yellow citrus fruit that grows primarily in Calabria. Traditional Italian medicine uses bergamot as a treatment for a range of symptoms, including fevers, sore throats, and infections. The fruit contains phytochemicals, flavonoids, and other compounds that may offer several health benefits, such as helping to lower a person’s cholesterol.

In this article, we discuss whether bergamot can help control cholesterol and how people can lower their cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is present in every cell of the body. It has important natural functions, such as building cells, generating vitamin D, and producing hormones. The body can produce cholesterol, but people also consume it in food. While it is an important substance, too much cholesterol can pose a problem.

There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which some people refer to as “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which some refer to as “good” cholesterol. LDL can accumulate in arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. However, HDL cholesterol transports cholesterol to the liver for removal.

With this in mind, a person may regard medications, supplements, or certain lifestyle behaviors as helpful in managing their cholesterol levels. Some evidence suggests bergamot can help reduce LDL levels and total cholesterol. While more studies are necessary, the same research indicates that bergamot may also help to increase HDL levels.

Bergamot contains high levels of flavonoids. Flavonoids are associated with many properties that can benefit a person’s health, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In particular, bergamot contains neohesperidin and naringin, which can bind with an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase.

This enzyme is involved in the production of cholesterol. Binding to it can interrupt cholesterol production and may reduce cholesterol levels. This process is similar to the function of statins, a medication that aims to lower LDL.

Additionally, a 2022 paper notes that bergamot extract can effectively lower cholesterol levels when combined with artichoke leaf extract. Researchers found that not only was this combination effective, it also resulted in lower cholesterol levels for people who did not respond to bergamot extract on its own.

A 2019 systematic review suggests bergamot may help with cholesterol management, especially in individuals with statin intolerance. However, while bergamot appears promising as a treatment for high cholesterol, further research is necessary into how it may influence cholesterol in the human body.

A doctor can measure a person’s cholesterol through a blood test called a lipid panel or lipid profile. A person may need to avoid eating 9–12 hours before this test to ensure accurate results. They will still be able to drink water but may wish to have their test in the morning so that they can fast overnight.

There are several medications a doctor may prescribe to lower cholesterol, such as statins, bile acid sequestrants, and injectable medications called PCSK9 inhibitors.

If a person wishes to lower their cholesterol without medications, they can try to incorporate the following lifestyle changes:

  • Eating a varied diet: A person can lower their cholesterol by reducing their consumption of saturated fats and trans fats, limiting or avoiding heavily processed foods, and opting for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Exercising regularly: Lower levels of exercise can lead to lower levels of HDL cholesterol. Evidence indicates that frequent anaerobic exercise can help boost HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking cigarettes, as well as vaping, can lower a person’s HDL cholesterol and, in turn, raise their LDL cholesterol.
  • Managing weight: Higher levels of body fat tend to raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. Research suggests that managing weight can have significant improvements in cholesterol levels. A person can consult a doctor to discuss whether their weight may contribute to their cholesterol levels and steps they can take to lower these levels.

Click here to learn more about reducing cholesterol.

Bergamot is a citrus fruit that may offer a range of health benefits. Some research suggests it can have a positive impact on a person’s cholesterol levels. However, further research in humans is necessary to help understand the role it plays in cholesterol management.

Other natural methods, such as regular exercise and a varied eating plan, can help people control their cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol and Menopause: What’s the Relationship? – Healthline

Menopause is a natural life stage that occurs when a person with ovaries no longer menstruates for over 12 months. On average, this occurs at around 51 years of age.

Hormone shifts occur at this stage of life. Markedly, the ovaries produce less estrogen, and the overall levels of this reproductive hormone declines.

Uncomfortable, yet common, symptoms may occur as a result. These may include hot flashes, poor sleep, vaginal dryness, night sweats, mood changes, and a slower metabolism.

After menopause, health risks also change, including an increased risk for heart disease. The increased risk of heart disease is mainly due to menopause’s effect on cholesterol levels.

This article further explores the relationship between menopause and blood cholesterol levels.

Menopause can lead to changes in hormones and metabolism, ultimately altering your lipid profile.

A lipid profile is a panel of blood tests that measure the type of fats in your blood, which can help determine risk factors for developing heart conditions. A lipid panel includes the following markers:

  • total cholesterol
  • high density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good cholesterol”
  • low density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad cholesterol”
  • triglycerides

A high level of lipids, including LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, can increase the risk of developing heart disease.

So where does menopause fit into this? Turns out, estrogen — the sex hormone that decreases during this stage of life — has many heart-protective mechanisms.

Estrogen works on the liver to regulate lipid metabolism and maintain a healthy lipid profile.

So when menopause begins and estrogen levels go down, your body’s ability to maintain that healthy lipid profile can be affected. That can lead to increases in cholesterol.

A review of 66 studies found that postmenopausal people had higher LDL and total cholesterol as well as higher triglyceride levels compared with pre-menopausal people. These higher levels increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Another observational study found similar results, except postmenopausal people also had lower HDL cholesterol, which would further elevate the risk of heart complications.

(However, observational studies are designed to find associations but can’t explain cause and effect — or why the associations exist. Their findings don’t always tell the full story compared to other types of studies due to confounding variables.)

Thankfully, there are many lifestyle modifications you can make to manage your cholesterol levels during menopause — or at any age and stage of life.

Diet can play a significant role. Focus on increasing your intake of soluble fiber, which can bind to cholesterol and help it leave your body via stools.

Enjoy various foods rich in soluble fiber, such as:

  • legumes like beans, edamame, chickpeas, peas, and lentils
  • whole grains like barley and oats
  • fresh fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots
  • fiber supplements like psyllium

As well, enjoy foods high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, walnuts, ground flax, olive oil and avocado. Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids can help lower cholesterol levels.

Be mindful of your saturated fat intake. Excess saturated fat in the diet — from sources like red meat, high fat dairy, and butter — is linked to increased LDL cholesterol levels.

Soy protein may have a favorable effect on cholesterol levels in postmenopausal people. Enjoy tofu, edamame, soy nuts, and soy milk more often.

Exercise can be incredibly beneficial for heart health. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and strength training at least 2 days per week.

Finally, smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. If you smoke, you may consider joining a smoking cessation program to help you quit.

Here are some questions people often ask about menopause and cholesterol.

Can menopause cause high cholesterol?

Menopause does not cause high cholesterol, but it does increase the risk.

High cholesterol has many risk factors, including family history, lifestyle, hormones, co-morbidities, environment, and more.

Does cholesterol go down after menopause?

No, because estrogen levels are reduced after menopause. Estrogen plays a role in keeping cholesterol low, so when estrogen levels go down, cholesterol levels may go up.

It’s important to focus on managing cholesterol levels through diet and lifestyle.

How can I lower my cholesterol during menopause?

Focus on eating more foods that are high in fiber and healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, and olive oil. Incorporate an exercise routine if you don’t already have one. And if you smoke, consider quitting.

During menopause, estrogen levels decrease. That’s associated with increased cholesterol levels, because estrogen helps your body regulate cholesterol and other lipids.

However, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of heart disease after menopause.

These include enjoying a varied and balanced diet rich in plant-based foods and fatty fish, adopting or maintaining an exercise routine, and quitting smoking if you currently smoke.

Keep in mind that menopause and reduced estrogen is just one of many risk factors. Focus on what is within your control and do your best.