Cholesterol, is it good or bad?

artery and Cholesterol

High levels of cholesterol in the blood lead to diseases of the circulatory system. These are one of the main causes of death in Spain. They account for 30 % of deaths per year. Diet is also a key factor in keeping the heart and circulatory system healthy. In addition, olive oil is a food that protects the heart, as we will see below.

Index:

  1. Definition
  2. How to lower cholesterol naturally?
  3. What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?
  4. What are normal blood cholesterol levels?

Summary: Cholesterol is a problem that affects a large number of people in the world. To keep it at bay, it is important to lead a healthy life, to take care of our diet and to use olive oil. Finally, in our shop in Las Rozas de Madrid you have at your disposal the best olive oil in Spain. Brands such as: Casas de Hualdo, Oro del Desierto, Vieira, etc.

Other interesting articles: Important characteristics of olive oil

1. Definition

Cholesterol is a lipid found in our organism and forms part of cell membranes and other molecules of great biological importance, such as hormones, vitamin D and bile acids.

We obtain cholesterol from animal products, not from plant products, as it does not exist in them. The animal products with the most cholesterol are brains, kidneys, liver, eggs, caviar, etc. Our body also obtains cholesterol through its synthesis in the liver.

Cholesterol is transported through the body via the blood, but as it is a lipid and does not dissolve in water, cholesterol is surrounded by hydrophilic proteins (molecules with an affinity for water, which dissolve in water), forming lipoproteins. Two main types of lipoproteins are formed in the body:

– HDL: High-density lipoproteins, popularly known as “good cholesterol”. These lipoproteins transport excess cholesterol from cells throughout the body to the liver, where the cholesterol is removed as such or in the form of bile salts. Put more simply, HDL is the rubbish truck that collects excess cholesterol from the cells and transports it to the liver for disposal.

– LDL: Low-density lipoproteins, popularly known as “bad cholesterol”. They circulate throughout the body and deposit cholesterol in all the body’s cells. The problem is that if there is an excess of LDL, then it is deposited on the walls of the arteries, making it difficult for the blood to circulate. Put more simply, it is the delivery truck that transports new cholesterol to various parts of the body.

Cholesterol is therefore a key molecule in the human body, but the problem lies in excess cholesterol and the disruption of the balance between HDL and LDL lipoproteins. This balance can be upset by excess consumption of saturated fat, hereditary factors and lack of exercise.

2. How can it be reduced naturally?

It is particularly important to regulate saturated fat intake to control its levels in the blood. Numerous scientific studies have shown that replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fats, in particular extra virgin olive oil (oil made up mainly of monounsaturated fats), leads to a reduction in plasma levels.

Seed oils, such as sunflower, corn and soya, contain linoleic acid. Linoleic acid lowers total and LDL cholesterol levels. However, olive oil consists mostly of oleic acid and to a much lesser extent of linoleic acid. Oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid), in addition to lowering blood cholesterol and LDL lipoprotein levels more than linoleic acid, slightly increases HDL lipoprotein and reduces LDL oxidation. Oxidation of LDL promotes thrombosis, a heart disease that impedes blood flow, leading to blood death.

Olive oil and preferably extra virgin olive oil is not the only food that lowers blood cholesterol, but there are other products that we recommend adding to the diet, such as: walnuts, Iberian ham, preferably acorn-fed, red wine, nuts, pulses, wholegrain cereals, red fruits, lecithins and soya, and processed foods, industrial pastries and chips, which contain trans fats, should be avoided.

Photo 1. Doctors always recommend extra virgin olive oil.

3. What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?

High cholesterol levels in the blood can only be detected early by a blood test. Some manifestations of our body could be a sign of this excess of sterols, cholesterol. These are assumptions, as the blood test is the only test that confirms the true level of cholesterol in the blood. Other signs may be very clear, but would have already caused great damage to our body or even death.

People with the following characteristics should pay more attention to their cholesterol level. Whenever we take an initiative it should always be accompanied by our doctor.

  • Genetic inheritance: If a relative suffers from hypercholesterolaemia, we may have inherited it.
  • It may be accompanied by other liver, kidney or hormonal diseases.
  • Consumption of certain pharmacological products
  • Excessive intake of saturated fats and sugars. Trans acids and industrial pastries increase cholesterol levels, especially bad cholesterol.
  • After menopause in women
  • In older people
  • Stress
  • Tobacco consumption
  • Diseases that can be caused by its high level:

Among the most serious and dangerous diseases that it causes us are the following two:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Some symptoms that can indicate a high level are:

  • Loss of balance or dizziness
  • Chest and headaches
  • Xanthomas: small yellow bumps or pimples near the eye.

4. What are normal blood levels?

Cholesterolaemia levels in the blood are now considered normal by doctors to be 200 mg/dl. Levels above 240 mg/dl are considered high.

HDL levels above 60 mg/dl protect against cardiovascular disease.

LDL levels should be between 100 and 129 mg/dl. Levels above 160 mg/dl are considered high.

Sources

Medine Plus health encyclopaedia

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