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Insurance Article

Counting Cholesterol - What do the numbers mean?

September 30 2015



Popular myths facts about this body fat

Cholesterol is a type of body fat classified as sterols. In addition to sterols, the body also contains triglycerides and phospholipids. The liver produces the cholesterol essential for our day-to-day body functions, around 800-1500 mg daily. It is harmful for the body only if the level of bad cholesterol exceeds the permissible limit. Read on to debunk the myths around this body fat and arm yourself with knowledge to stay healthy.

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Friend and Foe: Good and Bad Cholesterol

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is a cholesterol carrier made of proteins and fats. Cholesterol does not dissolve in the blood stream. Therefore, it requires carriers such as protein and fat to transport it to different parts of the body. Considered the good cholesterol, HDL helps to flush the unhealthy cholesterol from our body. A 55 mg/dl level of HDL signifies that there has been more cholesterol outflow than sedimentation.

On the other hand, bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) has fats as its major component with little protein. LDL is responsible for depositing cholesterol in the arteries. High LDL levels can cause blockage in the arteries, preventing blood flow. An optimum LDL should be within 100 mg/dl.

Besides the numbers mentioned above, a good test of whether your cholesterol levels are healthy is to check for the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL. As long as it is maintained around 3, you have no reason to worry. Total cholesterol maintained within 200 mg/dl is ideal. Similarly, HDL level should be not more than 40 mg/dl in case of men and less than 50 mg/dl for women. LDL value greater than 130 mg/dl is not desirable.

Diet and Lifestyle

Cholesterol is primarily found in processed food. Eatables made from refined sugar, flour, trans-fat foods, etc. tend to be the main culprits of high triglycerides and the ill effects of bad cholesterol. Excessive alcohol consumption is also a contributing factor. To maintain healthy cholesterol levels, avoid over indulging in such foods.

A diet rich in fiber and grains is excellent for removing the bad cholesterol from the body. Apples, oats, almonds, garlic, spinach, beans also help reduce cholesterol levels since these contain soluble fiber. Contrary to popular belief, consumption of nuts does not increase cholesterol. In fact, daily intake of almonds can help to improve blood cholesterol.

A healthy and wholesome diet must be complemented with regular exercise to keep these numbers in check. This helps keep cholesterol-related issues at bay and makes room for occasional indulgence in foods that tickle the taste buds but don't score high on the health index. Incorporate lifestyle changes and follow a disciplined routine to avoid health complications. While you take these precautions, also opt for a health insurance to safeguard your finances in case of unforeseen health issues.

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