Cholesterol and triglycerides are lipid or fat and are necessary for normal functioning of body. Cholesterol is a soft, clay-like, fat-like, white crystalline substance, C27H45OH, found in bloodstream and animal tissues and various foods. It is important as a constituent of cell membranes and a precursor to steroid hormones. It is normally synthesized by the liver and is transported through the bloodstream by different types of lipoproteins. Its main two types are HDL and LDL and they are routinely measured in blood tests.
Triglycerides are the main constituents of natural fats and oils. They are required in body to provide energy needed by tissues to function. If the level of LDL and triglycerides rises then the risk factor for developing diseases also increases.
The main source of both type of fat inside body is our diet. When the food rich in animal food, fats, sugar, dairy products is taken in excess that causes the rise in levels of cholesterol and triglyceride. It is important to choose food wisely. The one which is low-fat, contain complex carbohydrate, low in sugar and rich in vitamins and natural antioxidants. So the first step toward lowering the cholesterol and triglyceride levels starts in kitchen.
Why Cholesterol is required in our body?
Cholesterol is an essential part of every cell in the body.
It is necessary for new cells generation and repair of old cells.
It is used by the adrenal glands to form hormones such as cortisol, by the testicles to form testosterone, and by the ovaries to form estrogen and progesterone.
Why triglycerides are required in the body?
Triglycerides supply energy for the body.
It provides immediate energy needs to muscles and also store fat for future energy requirements.
When the serum levels of cholesterol rises then risk of developing coronary artery disease also increases. High level of triglyceridelevels also add to risk factor for coronary artery disease and development of pancreatitis (inflammation of pancreas).
NORMAL : Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
BORDERLINE HIGH :150 to 199 mg/dL
HIGH :200 to 499 mg/dL
VERY HIGH :500 mg/dL or higher
The condition of elevated triglyceride levels is known as Hypertriglyceridemia.
Types of Cholesterol
Lipoproteins are molecules made of proteins and fat. They carry cholesterol and triglycerides through the blood. As part of lipoproteins the cholesterol and triglycerides can be carried around in the bloodstream throughout the body.
The major lipoproteins are low density lipoproteins ( LDL) and high density lipoproteins ( HDL).
HDL is the good cholesterol. It is acronym for high-density-lipoprotein.
HDL cholesterol is a lipoprotein with a relatively high concentration of protein and low concentration of lipids.
It is a circulating lipoprotein that picks up harmful cholesterol away from the arteries and deposits it in the liver for reprocessing or excretion.
High levels of HDL are associated with a decreased risk of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.
NORMAL: Above 60 mg/dL
BORDERLINE:50 to 59 mg/dL
HIGH BELOW:40 mg/dL (for men);Below 50 mg/dL (for women)
LDL is the bad cholesterol. It is acronym for Low-density-lipoprotein.
Low-density lipoproteins transport cholesterol from the liver to the tissues of the body. LDL deposits in the walls of blood vessels, which causes the blockages of atherosclerosis and plaque growth.
High level of LDL increases risk of heart diseases, heart attack, and sudden blood clot in an artery narrowed by atherosclerosis.
NORMAL below 70 mg/dL
BORDERLINE 130 to 159 mg/dL
HIGH 160 to 189 mg/dL
Reasons for High Blood Cholesterol and High Triglycerides levels
- Certain types of Food, lack of exercise
- Metabolic syndrome
- Side effects of medication
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Kidney diseases
Why to reduce high LDL cholesterol?
LDL can join with fats and other substances to build up in the inner walls of your arteries.
This can cause arteries to clog and development of plaque. Arteries become narrow, which causes reduction in blood flow.
Rupture of plaque, can cause a blood clot. If blood clot blocks the blood flow it may cause a heart attack.
The medical term for high blood cholesterol is lipid disorder hyperlipidemia or hypercholesterolemia.
Foods that Raise Cholesterol level & Triglycerides
There are certain foods that contribute significantly in raising the level of cholesterol. Mostly food products obtained from animals are very high in cholesterol as the cholesterol is present in bloodstream and tissues of the animal. Eggs are very high in cholesterols. They contain about 250 mg cholesterol per egg. Red meat of any type is responsible for raising cholesterol, triglyceride and uric acid.
- Sugar, Sweeteners of all kinds, fat, ghee, butter, fast foods all cause increase in weight and obesity. They significantly raise fasting serum, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Red meat (beef, pork, and lamb), fatty meats, organ meats such as liver, shellfish
- Poultry and eggs, egg yolks
- Dairy products, cheese, whole-milk dairy products, Animal fats, butter
- Sweets, drinks, coconut oil
- Animal foods
- Trans-fatty acids/hydrogenated fats (polyunsaturated fats)
- Saturated fat (remain solid at room temperature)
- Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils
- Fast-food, Pizza, Burger
- Fruit juices, Chocolate and coffee
- High-calorie density food, highly refined and high- sugar food
Food that help to reduce bad Cholesterol and triglycerides
There are certain food items that help to manage normal Cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
- Sunflower oil reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood. Fruits do not contain any fat or cholesterol, and are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Vitamin C, Vitamin D (sunlight), Vitamin E (whole grains) and Beta-carotene also helps to maintain low cholesterol levels in body.
- Curcumin present in turmeric, helps to lower the cholesterol levels after regular use of few months.
- Grains, brown rice, cereals, oatmeal, barley, buckwheat, cornmeal and other whole grains and foods made from these are staple food and helps to maintain good health.
- Green vegetables are source of nutrition, vitamins, minerals, and other vital constituents.
- Beans such as Pinto, garbanzo, lentils, lima, kidney etc. are full of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and other necessary nutrients. Eating beans, legumes and lentils helps to lower cholesterol and triglycerides level.
- Garlic is well-known for beneficial effect on heart. Taking few garlic cloves an empty stomach with water helps to bring extra cholesterol and triglyceride to normal levels.
- Pippali powder in 1 gram dose with honey in the mornings reduces cholesterol and weakness of heart.
- Parval or Patol is also helpful in reducing blood sugar, total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It increases the high density lipoprotein cholesterol, phospholipid and faecal sterol levels.
- Triphala and its constituents act as cardio-tonic, control blood pressure, improve blood circulation and reduce cholesterol levels.
- Low saturated fat or no-fat dairy products
- Sunflower oil, olive oil, sesame oil
- Turmeric, Garlic, Cumin seeds, pippali (Piper longum)
- Fresh fruits, green vegetables
- Bottle gourd and its juice, Parval, Karela/ Bitter gourd
- Whole grain, wheat, oats, beans, peas and legumes
- Fibers, psyllium husk
- Guar gum, Guggul Gum, Green tea
- Foods rich in vitamins and antioxidants
- Dry fruits, Walnuts, almonds, pistachios and pumpkin seeds
- Soy products, Beans
In case of high serum triglycerides one should significantly limit their intake of alcoholic beverages and refined carbohydrates (sweets) as the alcohol is a potent stimulus for triglyceride production in the body.
Few tips in a nutshell, for lowering cholesterol and triglycerides
- Have healthy food, cut down on foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol
- Take low-fat, complex carbohydrate diet
- Eat salad, fiber, drink lots of water
- Eat homemade foods, fruits and green vegetables
- Do not take snacks of biscuits, chips, juices
- Eat two meals a day, and keep fast one day/week
Do exercise, Do brisk walking, at least 30 minutes on most or all days for a total of at least 150 minutes each week.
The change of diet and lifestyle plays a very important role in maintenance of normal cholesterol and triglycerides. If you can control your diet and make wise food choice then you can lower LDL levels by up to 30%. Regular aerobic exercise lowers LDL cholesterol even further and at the same time increases HDL.
But if you can’t control your cholesterol through these modification, then it is highly recommended to take medicines after consulting doctor to prevent various health complications.