Did you know that there are different types of cholesterol? Well, we can find three different types in our body, each with different properties. And, although when we hear this word, we always tend to panic, the reality is that it is not always harmful to our health. In fact, it is a fat necessary for life, but within normal blood levels.
So that you can start taking care of your cholesterol and cardiovascular health, in this article, we will find out what cholesterol is and what types of cholesterol there are. In addition, we will also explain how to control these levels so that you can take care of your heart.
Before learning about the types of cholesterol, it is important to know that cholesterol is a fatty substance that is part of the body, necessary for various bodily functions. However, through diet, this substance can end up accumulating and forming rigid plaques in the veins and arteries. Therefore, if the cholesterol level is too high, it promotes the onset and development of cardiovascular diseases.
Some of the essential functions of cholesterol in the body are as follows:
- It is involved in the formation of the sex hormones progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone.
- Structural, it forms part of cell membranes.
- It is part of bile salts and corticosteroid hormones.
- Promotes the synthesis of Vitamin D.
Blood is the vehicle that transports cholesterol from the intestine or liver to where it is needed in the body. To do this, it binds to other molecules (lipoproteins) and, depending on this, two types of cholesterol are formed:
- HDL or as it is popularly known “good cholesterol”. HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein and its main function is to transport fatty deposits to the liver to be eliminated in the form of bile. Its purpose is therefore to suppress the excess fat that accumulates in the arteries, i.e. the bad cholesterol or LDL.
- LDL, this type of cholesterol is connoted as “bad” because its function is the opposite of LDL. It stands for Low Density Lipoprotein and is deposited in the walls of the arteries. Our bodies naturally produce this fatty substance, but diet is key to keeping levels in check. The higher these levels in the blood, the greater the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Although there are only these two types, when performing a blood test, we can find other values that are related to the two previous ones:
- Total cholesterol. This would be the total amount of cholesterol present in our body, both HDL and LDL.
- Triglycerides. Triglycerides are another type of fat but are also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This substance is manufactured by the liver and tends to be high in people who are overweight.
- VLDL. This refers to Very Low Density Lipoprotein and includes LDL. The function of this substance is to transport the triglycerides that our body ingests through food.
To determine a person’s cholesterol levels, a blood test is necessary. Once the test has been carried out, the results should be analysed by a medical professional. However, it is important to know that the normal values are as follows:
- Total cholesterol. Results will be normal if below 200 mg/dl; normal-high when the level is between 200-240 mg/dl; and high if above 240 mg/dl.
- HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol should be above 35 mg/dl in men and 40 mg/dl in women.
- LDL cholesterol. Values will be normal below 100 mg/dl; normal-high, between 100-160 mg/dl; and high if above 160 mg/dl.
After knowing the normal values of the different types of cholesterol, it is important to emphasise that people with hypercholesterolaemia are twice as likely to suffer a myocardial infarction as a person with a total cholesterol below 200 mg/dl. In addition, there are some diseases such as diabetes and obesity that are directly related to high cholesterol levels.
But there are also other factors, such as family history, high blood pressure, smoking, not doing sport and eating large amounts of saturated fats in the diet.
That’s why the main recommendations for maintaining adequate cholesterol levels include eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Here’s how to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol, and other tips for excellent cardiovascular health.
After learning about the types of cholesterol, you will have realised that we must control both good and bad cholesterol, i.e. bad cholesterol must be brought down to adequate levels, and good cholesterol must be raised to help eliminate the excess of the former.
The answer to how to lower your bad cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol is very simple – you simply need to follow a healthy lifestyle. But you may not know where to start, so we’ve put together a list of tips to help you get your cholesterol levels right:
- Increase the intake of healthy fats, i.e. unsaturated fatty acids, such as oily fish, nuts and EVOO.
- Eat more vegetables, fruit and pulses.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Playing sport.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol. The former facilitates the elimination of HDL cholesterol and, on the contrary, contributes to the accumulation of LDL. The latter, on the other hand, can cause damage to the heart and liver, and the latter, as we have seen, is involved in the elimination of “bad” cholesterol.
- Cook in a healthy way, avoid fried foods and sauces, and do not overdo it with salt.
- It combats stress and anxiety, which are also linked to high cholesterol levels.
Following the above recommendations, lowering cholesterol can also be achieved with alternative therapies. However, you should always consult your doctor first, as some home remedies can interfere with medication.
- White tea, thanks to its catechins, helps regulate cholesterol levels, reducing LDL and increasing HDL.
- Omega-3 supplements, which control HDL cholesterol levels and help lower triglycerides.
- Dandelion, helps to eliminate toxins and regulate both cholesterol and uric acid.
- Artichoke, being an excellent diuretic, helps to eliminate “bad” cholesterol and regulate blood pressure.
- Red yeast rice, because of its natural statin content, reduces HDL cholesterol levels.
- Turmeric, not only serves to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood, but also has anti-inflammatory, hepatic and antibacterial benefits.
- G7 Orgono Cabbage, a natural supplement based on resveratrol to help prevent cardiovascular disease; omega-3 to reduce triglycerides; and monacolin K to help lower cholesterol.
Now that you know what types of cholesterol there are, don’t forget to have at least an annual check-up to ensure that your cholesterol levels are kept in check. Remember that, although there are genetic factors, an essential part of controlling it is to maintain an active lifestyle and follow a healthy diet.