Nutrition Made Simple


August 06 2021



Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like compound which is a form of lipid which is synthesised by the liver naturally. Cholesterol is essential for the production of components which form cell membranes, some types of hormones and vitamin D. Chondroitin is insoluble in water which is the reason why it cannot travel through the blood on its own. For the transportation of cholesterol, lipoproteins are produced by the liver which is made from fat and protein. Their function is to transport cholesterol and triglycerides throughout the bloodstream. 

Low-density lipoprotein ( LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) are the two forms of lipoprotein. The presence of an excess of LDL cholesterol is known as high cholesterol. If untreated, the levels of high cholesterol in the body can lead to many health conditions such as heart attack and stroke. As this condition is usually asymptomatic, it is very essential to keep the cholesterol levels in constant check regularly.

LDL cholesterol is also called bad cholesterol as it carries cholesterol to the arteries which lead to the buildup of cholesterol on the walls of the arteries when the levels of LDL cholesterol are too high. This condition is called cholesterol plaque which can narrow the arteries, limit the blood flow and increase the risk of developing blood clots. There is a possibility of getting a stroke if such a blood clot blocks an artery in the heart or brain. 

HDL cholesterol also called good cholesterol helps in returning the LDL cholesterol to the liver which is then eliminated from the body which in turn prevents the formation of cholesterol plaques and their accumulation in the arteries. When there are adequate levels of HDL cholesterol in the body, it helps in lowering the risk of blood clots, heart disease and stroke.

Checking cholesterol levels

It is recommended by medical practitioners to get the cholesterol levels checked at least once every four to six years. Cholesterol levels should be evaluated more often if there is a family history of high cholesterol or there is a presence of risk factors such as cardiovascular disease. Lipid panel tests can be used to measure the total cholesterol levels including LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It is said to be high cholesterol when the levels of an LDL cholesterol are high and HDL cholesterol levels are low and this condition can increase the risk of developing serious health disorders.

Cholesterol levels chart is a guideline used for determining the cholesterol levels in the body:

Total cholesterol 

HDL cholesterol 

LDL cholesterol 


less than 170

more than 45

less than 110


170 - 199

40 - 45

110 - 129


200 or more


more than 130



less than 40


Symptoms of high cholesterol - Usually, high cholesterol levels are a silent problem and they are asymptomatic until any serious health conditions occur such as heart attack or stroke which is why it is necessary to have routine cholesterol screening done.

Causes of high cholesterol

Increase in intake of foods high in cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats may increase the risk of developing high cholesterol levels in the body. Even improper lifestyle habits such as smoking and lack of proper physical activity can be a contributing factor in increasing cholesterol levels. Genetics also play an important role in the chances of developing high cholesterol. Those with a family history of high cholesterol are more prone to develop elevated cholesterol levels in the future.

 In some conditions, high cholesterol is also associated with a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia which is a genetic disorder that prevents the body from removing excess of LDL cholesterol from the body. Other associated health disorders such as diabetes and hypothyroidism may also act as risk factors for developing high cholesterol and related complications.

Risk factors for developing high cholesterol levels in the body include obesity, unhealthy and imbalanced diet, lack of exercise and physical inactivity, smoking, presence of the family history of high cholesterol, presence of associated health disorders such as diabetes, kidney disease or hypothyroidism.

Complications of high cholesterol

If high cholesterol levels are untreated for long, plaque formation occurs which can lead to narrowing of the arteries. This is called atherosclerosis which is a serious condition where there is a limitation in the blood flow through the arteries and it also raises the risk of developing blood clots which can cause many life-threatening complications such as stroke, heart attack, chest pain or angina, high blood pressure, peripheral vascular disease, chronic kidney disease. High cholesterol levels in the body can also give rise to bile imbalance which increases the risk of developing gallstones.

Treatment of high cholesterol

For the treatment of high cholesterol levels, lifestyle modifications are recommended to improve the diet, exercise habits, and cessation of smoking. If these changes do not contribute to a significant reduction in the cholesterol levels, medications are prescribed or other forms of treatment can be given to lower the cholesterol levels. 

Lowering of cholesterol through diet includes limiting the intake of foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats such as red meat, processed foods made with cocoa butter, palm oil or coconut oil, deep-fried foods and high-fat dairy products; inclusion of lean sources of protein such as chicken, fish and legumes; eating a variety of high fibre foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains; intake of baked, broiled, steamed, grilled and roasted foods and avoiding fried and junk foods. Eating fish and another omega 3 fatty acids rich foods such as walnuts, almonds, ground flax seeds also help in reducing LDL cholesterol levels. 

Medications to treat high cholesterol levels

Statins such as atorvastatin, fluvastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin are the most commonly preferred group of medications to lower cholesterol levels in the body. Their mechanism of action is by preventing the liver from producing more cholesterol. Other medications which can be used in the lowering of cholesterol are niacin, bile acid resins such as colesevelam, colestipol and cholesterol absorption inhibitors such as ezetimibe. 

Cholesterol levels can be decreased naturally by the intake of ingredients such as garlic, hawthorn, astragalus, red yeast rice, a plant sterol, oat bran found in oatmeal. Alvizia Healthcare supplements of cold-pressed flaxseed oil capsules to help in the regulation of cholesterol levels in the body. 

This article is the sole opinion of the author and Alvizia Healthcare holds no responsibility for the content. *



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