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Cholesterol: Its benefits and harms in health

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a white, waxy, fatty substance synthesized in the liver and released into the bloodstream. Cholesterol does not dissolve in the blood and is carried by carrier proteins, known as ‘lipoprotein’. Lipoprotein is a complex of fat (lipid) and proteins, in which fat is localized in the center and surrounded by the proteins. There are two types of lipoproteins, which carry cholesterol throughout the body.

  • LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is regarded as "bad" cholesterol. The higher level of LDL level blood causes chronic heart disease.
  • HDL (high density lipoprotein) acts as carrier of cholesterol from other parts of the body and send them to your liver. The liver clears off cholesterol. Thereby, higher level of HDL cholesterol rid the heart disease.


Why Is Cholesterol Important?

Cholesterol is very important to our body. It is an integral part of our cells and acts as a precursor for various biochemical synthesis. Cholesterol serve as

  • An important lipid constituent of cell membranes.
  • Production of steroid hormones and bile acids.
  • synthesis of Vitamin D.


How Cholesterol Creates Heart Disease?

Higher level of cholesterol in blood is build up in the walls of arteries, called ‘plaque (PLACK)’. Artery carries blood from the heart to other parts of the body. These plaque causes narrowing of the arteries leads into hardening of the arteries, called as atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, the flow of blood is slow down and amount of oxygen-carrying blood is decreased, called as ‘coronary artery disease’ (CAD).

The common sign of CAD is angina, in this condition large sized plaque does not allow heart to receive enough blood and the oxygen that creates chest pain.

Sometimes, plaques of thin covering bursts and releases fat and cholesterol into the bloodstream. The released fat and cholesterol creates clotting in the blood. Clotting in blood blocks the flow of blood causes angina or a heart attack. Therefore, lowering the cholesterol level in the body reduces the chances of heart attack.

Furthermore, it is important check your cholesterol level regularly and keep it at permissive level. It is important for every one of young age, middle age and older adults (women and men). It is the only way of keeping heart disease away.


What is the allowed/permissive level of Cholesterol?

It is recommended that after the age of 20, one should measure the cholesterol level at least once every 5 years. The test is called as ‘lipoprotein profile’ and it includes;

  • LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Triglycerides

The total cholesterol level should not be higher than 200 mg/dL. If once has cholesterol level higher than 200 mg/dL he/she should examine his/her complete lipid profiling.

The LDL (bad) cholesterol should not be higher than 100 mg/dL.

The higher level of HDL (good) cholesterol protects against heart disease and less than 40 mg/dL is considered as a major risk for developing heart disease. The HDL levels about 60 mg/dL and more is good for the heart.

Triglycerides level should be considered, as higher concentration can raise the risk of heart disease. Level of Triglycerides should not be higher than 150 mg/dL in the blood, otherwise precaution must be taken.


What affects Cholesterol Levels?

A variety of things can affect cholesterol levels. It includes;

  • Diet: Saturated fat and cholesterol rich food like corned beef, ribs, steak, pastrami, hot dogs, sausage, ground meat, bacon, and processed meats can increase blood cholesterol level. Try to reduce the saturated fat in diet, because they cause severe problems. Reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet helps in controlling blood cholesterol level.
  • Weight: Overweight is a major risk factor for heart disease. It increases your total cholesterol level and LDL. Do exercises daily to lose weight that will help in lowering your LDL levels, triglyceride levels and raise your HDL cholesterol level.
  • Physical Activity: Try to be physically active for 30 minutes every day. Physical activities lowers down the risk factor of heart disease. Regular physical activity reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
  • Age and Gender: Age factors also influence the cholesterol level in the body. At older ages cholesterol levels rise. Woman are likely to have high cholesterol level after the ‘menopause’.
  • Heredity: At genetic level, there are certain genes which controls the cholesterol level. Thus high blood cholesterol runs in family.


What Is Your Risk of Developing Heart Disease?

  • The higher LDL level
  • Other heart related diseases
  • Diabetic patients are prone to the risk of heart disease.


Major Risk Factors That Affects Your LDL

  • Cigarette smoking
  • High blood pressure (140/90 mmHg or higher or on blood pressure medication)
  • Low HDL cholesterol (less than 40 mg/dL)
  • Family history of early heart disease (heart disease in father or brother before age 55; heart disease in mother or sister before age 65)
  • Age (men 45 years or older; women 55 years or older)

 

Treatment of High Cholesterol

The main goal of lowering LDL level is to prevent heart disease or a heart attack.

  • Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC): Includes cholesterol-lowering diet, physical activity, and weight management.
  • Drug Treatment: Prescription of cholesterol-lowering drugs

 

Table 1. Level of cholesterol in blood and its risk to CAD

LDL level in blood mg/dL

Risk

≥100 mg/dL

Low-to-Moderate

≥130 mg/dL

Moderate Risk

≥130-160 mg/dL

Highest Risk

≥190 mg/dL

Next Highest Risk

 

Importance of Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC)

TLC is a set of things you can do to help lower your LDL cholesterol. It includes diet, which contains less than 200 mg of dietary cholesterol per day. TLC recommends

  • Limitation in animal fats (e.g. butter, cream, cheese, fried foods)
  • More fibre (e.g. fruit, vegetables, cereals, baked beans)
  • Add fish
  • Drink less alcohol and stop smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Increase physical activity – aim for 30 minutes per day
  • Take your medicine regularly in high cholesterol level

Drug Treatment: Drugs prescribed for lowering the cholesterol includes; statins, bile acid sequestrants, nicotinic acid, fibric acids, and cholesterol absorption inhibitors.


Ayurveda and Cholesterol Treatment

Ayurveda texts clearly emphasize on daily and seasonal health regime such as proper balanced diets and appropriate exercise to control the cholesterol. Interestingly, world is now focusing on a healthy lifestyle to avoid obesity, as it is a major factor for coronary artery diseases (CAD) indirectly associated with diabetes, hyperlipidemia and hypertension. The accumulation of fats in intra-abdominal cavity (visceral adiposity), have adverse coronary risk profile like atherosclerosis, plaque, myocardial infarction, Angina and dyspnea etc. When cholesterol level is high, then medication is also prescribed but chemically synthesized drugs have many severe health side effects. On the other hand, Ayurveda describes many herbs to treat high cholesterol in the body. The examples of herbs to reduce the cholesterol level in the body are; Garcinia (Carcinia cambogia), Guggul (Commiphora mukul), Ajmoda (Apium graveolans), Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna), Apamarga (Achyranthes aspera), Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Bhumiamalki (Phyllanthus niruri), Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum), Ginko (Ginko biloba), Garlic (Allium sativum), Haridra and Jatamansi etc.

Planet Ayurveda, Holistic Healing Through Herbs, a manufacturer of variety of herbal medicines, has some wonderful herbal medicines to treat cholesterol to prevent CAD.  


Garcinia capsules (500mg): Effectively reducing weight and cholesterol

Garcinia capsules are the herbal extracts of Garcinia cambogia. In Ayurveda, fruit Garcinia cambogia has been described for the treatment of various ailments like Digestive disorders, Rheumatism, Arthritis and worms, parasites, dysentery, purgatives. The scientific analysis of fruit shows presence of hydroxycitric acid (HCA). HCA is natural compound, which burns the fat.

HCA acts as

  • Appetite suppressant: It blocks ‘citrate lyase’ enzyme which synthesizes fat in the liver.
  • Supplement for weight loss: It also suppresses ‘serotonin’ in the brain, which suppresses the appetite. Natural HCA is nontoxic and controls the weight in natural way.

 

Gugullipid capsules (500 mg): Effectively reducing cholesterol

Gugulipid (guggul or guggal) is the extract of gum guggul resin of Commiphora mukul tree. In Ayurveda, Gugulipid is used for the treatment of lipid disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, bone fractures, ulcers, and epilepsy.

Planet Ayurveda, Gugulipid capsules (500 mg) are highly effective in reducing high LDL cholesterol, reducing pain during inflammation, obesity, and arthrosclerosis. Gugulipid capsules are 100% pure herbal and does not cause any side effects. Gugulipid capsules are effective in reducing pain during inflammation and arthritis. It benefits in preventing and treating atherosclerosis heart disease.

 

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