Cholesterol is a kind of fat that is a major component of cell walls, bile, and various hormones. Most of the cholesterol in our body is produced by the liver. It can also be ingested from animal sources such as meat, fish, seafood, and dairy products. Since cholesterol is insoluble in blood, it is combined with and wrapped around a substance called lipoprotein before it can be transported in the blood vessels to all parts of the body.
The body has a mechanism that ensures that blood cholesterol level is always kept within a desirable range. Cholesterol production drops when dietary consumption increases and rises if limited amounts of this essential substance is consumed. However, for some individuals, this mechanism fails to work correctly and their blood cholesterol soars after consuming plenty of food high in cholesterol.
Excess cholesterol in the blood can be deposited on the inner walls of the blood vessels, leading to a partial or complete blockage. Coronary heart disease results when the artery that supplies blood to the heart muscles is blocked. Similarly, a stroke occurs when cholesterol deposition causes blockage or rupture of blood vessels of the brain, leading to paralysis or even death. Both heart disease and stroke are major causes of death in many well-developed countries.
Desirable Levels of Cholesterol and Lipoproteins
The sum of all cholesterol in our blood is referred as Total Cholesterol. The two main components of this measurement are Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and High Density Lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL).
LDL cholesterol promotes fat deposition in blood vessels and increases risk of coronary heart disease. Thus it is often named as the "bad cholesterol". Conversely, HDL cholesterol pushes the fatty substance through your body to the liver, which then removes it from your body. Its protection against blockage and rupture of blood vessels reduces risk of heart disease, so is commonly named "good cholesterol".
Although total cholesterol includes good cholesterol, it is also directly affected by the amount of bad cholesterol in our blood, thus an elevated level of total cholesterol is not desirable. Levels of the different types of cholesterol and our risk of heart disease can be measured and indicated by blood tests.
How to Prevent or Improve High Cholesterol Levels
To prevent blood cholesterol problems and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, it is very important to adopt a healthy lifestyle:
- Eat a balanced diet. Minimize consumption of high-fat or high-cholesterol foods such as animal fat and skin, organ meats, whole milk products, fried foods, and egg yolk. Consume more dietary fibre from vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans.
- Maintain an appropriate body weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- Do not smoke.
- Quit drinking or only drink in moderation.
- Individuals with family history of heart or vascular diseases should pay extra attention to their lifestyles. Regular health checks are highly recommended.
The World Health Organization suggests that the daily cholesterol intake of adults should be kept at a level below 300 mg.
The IMI Approach
In case of high cholesterol levels, our practitioners will provide dietary advice that is suitable for you and prescribe necessary supplements to facilitate your weight loss program.