Cholesterol is an organic compound, that either enters the body with food, or is synthesized in liver. It is a natural fatty alcohol, needed for healthy function of the human body. The normal level of cholesterol differs from person to person. It also depends on the age and sex of the person. As a rule, over time, the norm increases due to age-related physiological changes in the body. However, excessive cholesterol in blood can lead to some health problems. In particular, it is the primary cause of atherosclerotic, or cholesterol, plaques in the blood vessels.
When circulating in the blood, fragments of excessive cholesterol stick together and accumulate in the arteries. Clumps and plaques trouble the blood movement, creating obstacles for the blood flow and narrowing the lumen of the vessels. It causes oxygen starvation and insufficient blood supply in tissues and organs. When some of the plaques break down, they form a thrombus, that can lead to thromboembolism, heart attacks, strokes and even death.
Cholesterol in the blood is represented as a compound of lipid and protein, called lipoprotein. There are two types of lipoprotein: High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), or «good» cholesterol, and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), or «bad» cholesterol. Together, they make up total cholesterol in your body. If the rates of the total and «bad» cholesterol are over the limit, a course of treatment has to be taken to prevent atherosclerosis, and to normalize blood cholesterol.
Medication is normally prescribed only for those people who have been exposed to a heart attack, stroke, acute coronary syndrome and some other diseases.
In other cases, a non-drug therapy is recommended. It involves regular physical activity (jogging, walking, swimming, sport games, gymnastics), that improves blood circulation and prevents congestion of liquids in vessels. Bad habits can exacerbate cholesterol problems: tobacco smoke slows down the metabolism, which causes cholesterol accumulation in the body and its slow withdrawal from the body. Quitting smoking would be a great solution to improve cholesterol lowering in the body.
Nutrition and diet have to be changed for the better as well. First of all, one should forget about food that contains a lot of «bad» cholesterol: fried meat, meat preserves (canned meat, ham, sausages), animal fat (butter, mayonnaise, fat dairy products).
«Good» cholesterol contains in vegetable oils, fish, green vegetables, mushrooms, apples and others. The more such products you have in you menu, the better.