There should be normal cholesterol levels to prevent cholesterol build-up in the blood stream and blockage of the arterial walls. The excess cholesterol in the blood would form plaques that would disturb the normal flow of the blood. It can cause the narrowing of the arteries which puts the person at higher risk of having a heart disease and stroke.
There are two different types of cholesterol in the body, namely, the low density lipoprotein and high density lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are specialized biochemicals that have both lipids and proteins. Cholesterol attaches to the specialized protein to become lipoprotein. Lipoproteins help in the transport of cholesterol from the liver, where it is synthesized, to the cells in different parts of the body.
The low density lipoprotein (LDL) is called the bad cholesterol because if it is present in high levels, this lipoprotein will accumulate in the blood stream which will eventually lead to the occlusion of the arteries. A person with high levels of low density lipoproteins is at risk of having atherosclerosis. On the other hand, high density lipoproteins (HDL) are called the good cholesterol because they carry the excess cholesterol in the blood stream back to the liver where it is eliminated. Thus, cholesterol cannot accumulate and obstruct the arteries thereby reducing the chances for the development of atherosclerosis and other heart diseases.
What are functions of cholesterol in the body?
Some people think that even if there are normal cholesterol levels in the blood cholesterol is still a bad substance that should be eliminated from the body. The cholesterol’s role in the body is often misunderstood. People should be aware that the body also needs cholesterol for survival as cholesterol has numerous functions in the body.
- Cholesterol forms the outer part of the cell and protects the nerve fibres and tissues from getting damaged.
- With normal cholesterol levels in the blood, cholesterol also helps the components of the cells, specifically the mitochondria, in producing the energy needed by the cells to function properly.
- Bile acids, likewise, need normal cholesterol levels so they can properly aid in the digestion of foods.
- When normal cholesterol levels are maintained, cholesterol is usually stored in the ovaries, testes and adrenals and will become steroid hormones. Cholesterol forms the estrogens, androgens, aldosterone, cortisol and other steroid hormones.
Tests for healthy cholesterol levels
A person should be aware of the normal cholesterol levels so that keeping track of the amount of cholesterol in the blood would be easier. The Lipid Panel Test is the examination used to confirm whether normal cholesterol levels in the blood are maintained or not. The test measures the amount of low density lipoprotein, high density lipoprotein, triglycerides (a substance made up of fats) and the total cholesterol level in the blood.
The Lipid Panel Test is recommended for all adults above 20 years of age as a screening test especially if they are positive in the different risk factors that could lead to the development of coronary heart diseases. It is advised to have this test once every five years. Those people who have risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, smoking, old age (aged 45 years and above) and a family history of heart diseases, are examined more frequently because they are prone to having coronary heart problems. People at risk of coronary heart disease should maintain normal cholesterol levels to prevent the disease from developing in the future.
Recommended cholesterol levels
If the low density lipoprotein (LDL) is less than 100 mg per dl, it is considered to be within the normal range of cholesterol levels in the blood. However, if the LDL is anywhere between 100 and 189 mg per dl, the person is said to be at the borderline level. On the other hand, if the test showed a value equal to or greater than 190 mg per dl, this means that the low density lipoprotein is very high, and this should alert the person to slow down or stay away from eating foods rich in saturated fats to avoid coronary heart disease.
In contrast to low density lipoprotein, the normal cholesterol levels for the high density lipoprotein are 60 mg per dl and above. If the HDL is below 40 mg per dl, the person may be at risk of heart disease and therefore should keep watch of his activities and what he eats.
The normal cholesterol levels in the blood are less than 200 mg per dl. If the value is above 200 mg per dl, the person is usually evaluated further for heart diseases.
Having normal cholesterol levels in the blood is crucial in maintaining good health. This can be done by adhering to a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. By doing this, you are helping yourself keep away from fatal heart diseases.