Overview & Description
Blood cholesterol and dietary cholesterol are two different types of cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol is found in food of animal origin. Blood cholesterol is a waxy substance that occurs naturally in the body. Since cholesterol is not soluble in blood, it is carried around in a protein-coated package called a lipoprotein. High-density lipoprotein or HDL is known as the good package for cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein or LDL is the bad package for cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a significant factor in the development of coronary heart disease, or CHD.
Risk factors and risk equivalents
The higher a person’s LDL level and the more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance of developing CHD. People who already have CHD and those who have certain conditions called CHD “risk equivalents” are at the greatest risk of having a major heart-related problem. If a person has CHD risk equivalents, it means that he or she has the same level of risk for a major heart-related problem as someone who already has CHD. These conditions include:
A person’s risk of developing CHD within 10 years is determined by using information from the Framingham Heart Study. This 10-year risk is calculated from a formula that takes the following into account:
A blood lipid test will provide information about a person’s:
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has set the following guidelines for blood cholesterol levels:
LDL results in healthy adults are evaluated as follows:
If an individual has certain other risk factors, LDL cholesterol guidelines goals are stricter. LDL goals for these groups are as follows:
A low HDL level is less than 40 milligrams per deciliter, or mg/dL. Low HDL increases a person’s risk for CHD. A high HDL is 60 mg/dL or above. High HDL lowers the risk of CHD.
Therapeutic lifestyle changes
The treatment of high blood cholesterol focuses on reduction of LDL cholesterol to the optimal level, whenever possible. LDL can be lowered with therapeutic lifestyle changes or TLC. Medicines may be necessary in addition to TLC for some people. Therapeutic lifestyle changes include regular physical activity and weight management. TLC also includes the following dietary guidelines:
TLC guidelines also recommend 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day. These are found in enriched food products such as spreads that lower cholesterol.
Putting these recommendations into practice includes:
If a person is not able to lower blood cholesterol levels enough with lifestyle changes, the healthcare provider may suggest medicine that lowers cholesterol.
The FDA has approved health claims for soy products. These plant products can lower cholesterol levels. Diets high in soy products have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in people with an LDL level above 200 mg/dL when they are substituted for foods high in fat and cholesterol. The soy products can lower LDL cholesterol if the person follows these guidelines:
Functions and Sources
In what food source is the nutrient found?
Foods from animal sources that are also high in saturated fats tend to be high in cholesterol. In fact, cholesterol is only found in animal products. These include dairy products, meat, fish, poultry, and fats. For example:
Some foods, such as nuts, have no cholesterol, even though they are high in fat. Some foods are low in fat but high in cholesterol. For example, a 3-ounce serving of shrimp has 1.5 grams of fat but contains 129 mg of cholesterol. For most people, it is the amount of saturated fat in their diets that raises blood cholesterol levels. However, cholesterol in foods also matters.
How does the nutrient affect the body?
A person’s blood cholesterol level is influenced by two factors. One is the saturated fat and cholesterol a person eats. The second is how much cholesterol his or her body makes. Cholesterol is made in the liver.
Cholesterol is a part of every cell in the body. It has some valuable functions in the body. It is used to make certain hormones and bile, which is needed for digestion of fat. Sunlight can help a substance containing cholesterol in the skin change to vitamin D.
The body produces all the cholesterol it needs. When too much cholesterol is consumed, the body cannot get rid of the excess. Cholesterol can build up on the insides of blood vessel walls. This results in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. LDL cholesterol is the main source of buildup on the blood vessel walls. HDL carries cholesterol back to the liver and can prevent buildup on the blood vessel walls.
Article type: xmedgeneral