Cholesterol is an organic molecule synthetized by your body. It also comes from animal sources food (meat, poultry fish) and full-fat dairy products. It is an essential structural component because it is needed to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods.
It is a fat substance that can't dissolve in the blood and has be transported through the bloodstream by vehicles called lipoproteins, which are made of fat and proteins. There are two types of cholesterol, depending on which types of lipoproteins carry it:
Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL
It is often referred to as "bad cholesterol" because it contributes to plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible. This is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, heart attack or stroke can result. Peripheral artery disease can also develop when plaque buildup narrows an artery supplying blood to the legs.
High-density lipoprotein, or HDL
It is often referred to as “good cholesterol” because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries. HDL carries LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is broken down and passed from the body. A healthy level of HDL cholesterol may also protect against heart attack and stroke, while low levels of HDL cholesterol have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.
Total cholesterol is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
What causes high level of bad cholesterol
- Inherited conditions: your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
- Diet: Saturated fat or trans fats increase the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood.
- Physical Activity and Weight: Not being physically active or being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical activity or losing weight can help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol levels.
- Some medical conditions and prescribed medicines: In type 2 diabetes, underactive thyroid gland and kidney problems are a common cause of unhealthy blood fats. Drugs like diuretics, steroid hormones, beta blockers and antidepressants are known to raise cholesterol.
- Age and Gender: Cholesterol levels naturally increase as you get older. Women may find their LDL cholesterol levels increase after the menopause.
Symptoms & Health complications
High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. If you have other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure or diabetes, this risk increases even further. The greater the level of each risk factor, the more that factor affects the overall risk.
When too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain, making it harder for your heart to circulate blood. Plaque can break open and cause blood clots. If a clot blocks an artery that feeds the brain, it causes a stroke. If it blocks an artery that feeds the heart, it causes a heart attack.
Treatment & Prevention
Hyperlipidemia can be improved in many cases through healthy eating and regular exercise. Here are some tips on how to manage your risk of high cholesterol.
• Limit your intake of red meat and dairy products made with whole milk to reduce your saturated and trans fat. Choose skim milk, lowfat or fat-free dairy products. Limit fried food, and use healthy oils in cooking, such as vegetable oil.
• Increase the amount of fiber you eat: A diet high in fiber can help lower cholesterol levels.
• Lose extra weight. A weight loss can help lowering your risk of or even reversing hyperlipidemia.
Regulating cholesterol level with herbs
Scientific research studies have shown that jiaogulan decreases cholesterol by improving the liver's ability to send sugar and carbohydrates to the muscles for conversion to energy instead of turning the sugar into triglycerides which the body stores as fat. It improves fat metabolism, reduces blood fat levels and depresses lipid peroxide and fat sediment in the blood vessels.
There are many published human studies on the effectiveness of Jiaogulan in lowering cholesterol. The estimates of overall effectiveness range between 67% and 93%. Most of these studies showed that Jiaogulan lowered blood serum cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL and increased HDL.
Gypenosides were tested for their effect on lipid metabolism in rats fed with high-sugar and high-fat diets. It was found that giving these extracts reduced levels of serum triglycerides total cholesterol, and phospholipids.
Mulberry-leaf extract has shown effectiveness in suppressing the progression of atherosclerosis by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol, which is a major factor in the development of atherosclerotic plaque.
In a comparative study between a mulberry leaf and a standard antidiabetic drug, the mulberry leaf did better, and also significantly improved the blood cholesterol and triglyceride profiles of the test subjects. Many patients have also reported weight loss, which they attribute to the consumption of mulberry leaf extract.
Noni juice is an important source of (beta-) sitosterols, stigmasterol and campesterol—the three most nutritionally important phytosterols. These compounds work by mimicking cholesterol and competing with it for absorption. The result is that less cholesterol and less bile (a cholesterol bi-product) is absorbed into the body from the gut. In order to make more bile, more cholesterol has to be removed from the circulation, so lowering blood levels of cholesterol. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to obtain enough of the plant sterols regularly from the diet to effectively lower cholesterol. Adding a plant sterol supplement with meals helps alleviate problems associated with high levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in our bodies.
Moreover, beta sitosterols has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and to lower fever, helping to balance the immune system. A balanced immune system will help improve rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, cancer, auto-immune diseases, and chronic viral infections. Stigmasterol and sitosterols reduce the tendency of blood clotting conditions (thrombosis) and help to repair slightly damaged blood vessels.
Noni is also rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids required to keep your heart healthy.