A normal cholesterol level is extremely important to avoid the dreadful consequences of cardiovascular diseases. Cholesterol plays a vital role in the proper functioning of body systems, from the formation of cells and hormones to the protection of nerve fibers. But the body needs only a little of it. An increase in cholesterol level is harmful to the body, especially to the heart as it impedes the optimal flow of blood to the heart.
The body’s cholesterol level can be determined by blood test. High cholesterol level can be lowered naturally and keeping it at normal range involves living an active and healthy lifestyle.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol refers to the waxy, fatty substance excreted by the liver and found in some foods like meat, eggs and dairy products. It does not easily dissolve in the blood and needs to combine with some proteins to bring it to the different body parts. These proteins are called high density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is considered as good cholesterol because it does not allow the fats to stick to the walls of the blood vessels and is predisposed to bring the fats in their projected location. On the other hand, LDL is the bad cholesterol which drops the fats anywhere which then stick and oxidize into plaque deposits in the blood vessels, hindering optimal blood flow.
How important is it to maintain a normal cholesterol level?
Maintaining a normal cholesterol level is beneficial to the body as it carries out some important functions such as:
- Production of Vitamin D
- Production of hormones in the ovaries, testes and adrenal glands
- Formation and protection of the cell membranes from dreadful substances inside the body
- Produce bile salts to help digest fats
The liver secretes cholesterol around 1,000 milligrams a day and people consume around 150 milligrams of cholesterol from the food they eat. This is the reason why the body only needs a little cholesterol from food to fill in the needs.
What is the normal range of healthy cholesterol levels?
The normal cholesterol levels should not exceed the following values:
- Total cholesterol level – 200mg/dl to 239mg/dl
- HDL cholesterol level – above 60mg/dl
- LDL cholesterol level – below 130mg/dl
- Triglycerides level – 150mg/dl to 199mg/dl
It should be noted that normal cholesterol level is different between men and women due to the presence of the estrogen hormone in women which increases their level of good cholesterol or HDL and lowers their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
What causes the cholesterol level to increase?
There are a number of factors that can cause the cholesterol level to increase, and these are:
Heart disease or cholesterol problems can be inherited from family members and relatives suffering from the same problem. Other inherited medical conditions like diabetes may also give rise to higher cholesterol level.
Being overweight can cause the normal cholesterol level to increase due to the imbalance between the cholesterol, raising LDL and lowering HDL.
Cholesterol level tends to increase as the individual gets older.
Foods with high cholesterol and saturated fat can lead to an increase in cholesterol level. Examples of these foods are pork, lamb, beef and dairy products.
What are the indicators that the cholesterol level has gone beyond the normal range?
There is no other way to determine if a person’s cholesterol level has gone beyond the limit than by a simple blood test. The lipoprotein profile testing is often recommended for everyone from 19 years old and above at least once in every 5 years. Men and women aged between 45 and 55, including those who are genetically predisposed should undergo the lipoprotein profile testing more frequently. The test is conducted after fasting for 9 to 12 hours.
How to maintain a normal cholesterol level?
Cardiovascular diseases are killing lots of people these days. Keeping the cholesterol level at normal range is important especially with the rise of unhealthy and instant foods which contain high levels of bad cholesterol. There are a number of ways to keep the cholesterol level normal.
- Eating a balanced diet
A diet consisting high contents of vitamins and anti-oxidants and low in fat and niacin, helps in keeping the cholesterol level in normal range. Consume whole grains, veggies, fruits, fish and legumes and use non-fat or low-fat milk to keep your cholesterol level in check.
- Regular exercise
Exercising regularly not only helps in maintaining a healthy weight but normal cholesterol level as well.
The normal cholesterol level differs between men and women and keeping it at normal range is quite challenging because cholesterol is present in foods commonly available for consumption. Besides, there are no signs that could conclusively indicate that a person’s cholesterol level has gone beyond the limits. A simple blood test will reveal the cholesterol level of a person. A normal cholesterol level is possible with balanced diet and regular exercise.