1. What is High Blood Cholesterol?
High Blood Cholesterol means that there are high levels of lipids (fatty substances) in the blood. It is one of the main risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke. Lipids play an important role in all living cells, and they include cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and fatty acids. When there is too much cholesterol and/or triglycerides, one is at risk of certain diseases.
2. What are the different types of lipids?
The types of lipids are cholesterol, triglycerides, and lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are molecules of fat and cholesterol linked to protein.
- High Density Lipoproteins (HDLs) HDLs, also known as 'good cholesterol' remove excess cholesterol, prevent cholesterol build-up in the blood vessels, and lower your risk of heart disease.
- Low Density Lipoproteins (LDLs) The cholesterol and fat from LDLs are the main source of dangerous build-up and blockage in the blood vessels. That is why LDL-cholesterol is often called the 'bad cholesterol'.
- Triglycerides Triglycerides are another type of fat in your bloodstream, which is used by your muscles to provide your body with energy. Excess triglycerides put you at higher risk of a heart attack.
For a healthy individual, your blood cholesterol levels should be as follows:
- Total cholesterol < 5.2 mmol/L (200 mg/dL)
- HDL-cholesterol ≥ 1.0 mmol/L (40 mg/dL)
- LDL-cholesterol < 3.4 mmol/L (130 mg/dL)
- Triglycerides < 2.3 mmol/L (200 mg/dL)
(Above figures extracted from HPB)
3. Who can develop high blood cholesterol?
Anyone can develop high blood cholesterol. Those who are especially at risk are older adults, those with a family history of heart disease or stroke, and overweight individuals.
4. How can we prevent and treat high blood cholesterol?
You can adopt these lifestyle measures to reduce your risk of high blood cholesterol. Lifestyle changes are also important for those who already have high blood cholesterol.
- Lose weight if you are overweight Excess weight adds strain on the heart. In some cases, weight loss may be the only treatment needed.
- Adopt a healthy died Dietary adjustments may be beneficial, especially a decrease of fat and cholesterol in your diet. Reduce total fat intake to no more than 30% of total calories, 7% of saturated fats, and no more than 200 mg (5.18 mmol) of dietary cholesterol a day. Make sure you eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruit and low in fat.
- Stay active Engage in 30 minutes of physical activity on 5 or more days a week. You can break up the 30 minutes of exercise a day into 10- minute bouts. Remember to consult your doctor before you embark on any exercise plan.
- Quit smoking Smoking greatly adds to the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, so stop smoking if you are a smoker.
- Limit alcohol intake Keep your alcohol intake to less than 1 or 2 standard drinks a day.
5. If a product's package reads 'Low Cholesterol,' does that mean that the product is low in fat and safe to eat?
Not necessarily. Numerous foods marked "low cholesterol" can contain oils that may be high in saturated fats, which are not considered healthy. In addition, unsaturated fats like vegetable oil also can be high in calories. The total amount of fat in your diet should be kept to about 20-30 percent of your daily intake. (Above information is extracted from Medicinenet.)