Understanding Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a type of fat in the blood, and can be classified into two types: 

  1. Low density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol because it can accumulate in the blood vessels. This causes thickening and hardening of the arteries which results in impaired blood circulation and  may cause a heart attack. See figure.
  2. High density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as the “good” cholesterol because it can transport the “bad” cholesterol to the liver where it can be removed from the body. 

There is also another type of fat in the blood called triglycerides (neutral fat). Although it is not a type of cholesterol, triglyceride levels can increase and cause harm to the body and hyperlipidemia due to overweight, heavy drinking, or consuming too many sweets. 

Coronary Artery Disease

High cholesterol levels are a very important factor that causes heart diseases. Cholesterol is produced by our liver and we also get it from eating animal food products that contains cholesterol (e.g. beef, pork, dairy, egg yolk, cheese, butter, offal, lobster, crab, and mussels, etc.). Lowering your “bad” cholesterol levels can help prevent coronary heart disease, heart disease, stroke, and other diseases. 

How to control cholesterol?

  • Knowing the types of fats: Choosing a low-fat diet can reduce “bad” cholesterol level. Try to avoid eating food with high cholesterol, e.g. fatty meat, chicken skin, duck skin, pork skin, offal, egg yolk, homo-milk, and cream. 
  • Maintain a standard body weight: Your doctor and dietician can guide you with the appropriate BMI and healthy lifestyle. 
  • Exercise routinely and in moderation 
  • Stop smoking 
  • Drink alcohol in appropriate amount, according to your doctor’s instructions 
  • Take prescription drug on a timely manner

How much fat and cholesterol does the body require?
In a healthy diet plan fat should account for 25-30% of the daily calorie intake; this is approximately 55-65 grams. A controlled low cholesterol level is less than 200mg of cholesterol.