Cholesterol is an important component of our cells and the building block of vital hormones. It also plays a crucial role in the energy budget. Too high a cholesterol level can damage the vessels when it is deposited in the vessel wall. An arteriosclerosis develops. The vessels become inelastic, tight and - in the worst case - impermeable.
Cholesterol plays a major role in the development of arteriosclerotic diseases. The most important triggers for atherosclerosis are elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, hereditary predisposition, malnutrition, as well as metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and its precursor, insulin resistance. The Dangerous: The greater the arteriosclerotic deposits in the vessels, the higher the risk of dangerous cardiovascular diseases. As with hypertension, sufferers have no symptoms for a long time, often failing to make an early diagnosis and thus the early onset of therapy.
Good and bad cholesterol
In the blood, the cholesterol is bound to so-called lipoproteins. Physicians distinguish between two different lipoprotein fractions: LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein, Low Density Lipoprotein) and HDL (High Density Lipoprotein, High Density Lipoprotein).
LDL - "the harmful cholesterol"
LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) brings the cholesterol to all cells. An excess of cholesterol can deposit on the inner walls of the vessel and lead to dreaded arteriosclerosis. The risk of dangerous diseases such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke or heart attack increases with increasing deposition of cholesterol on the cell walls. Estimates suggest an increase in the risk of coronary heart disease by one to two percent with one percent increase in LDL cholesterol. The value should therefore not exceed 160 mg / dL without the presence of risk factors; If risk factors are present, the value should not exceed 130 mg / dl. Recommendation for lowering LDL cholesterol: drug therapy
The lower the LDL cholesterol - the better!
HDL - "The Useful Cholesterol"HDL (High Density Lipoproteins), on the other hand, brings the cholesterol to the liver, where it is processed and degraded. Thus, it counteracts arteriosclerosis and is therefore called the "useful" cholesterol. The value should be above 40 mg / dl. The goal of successful treatment of elevated cholesterol levels should be both an increase in HDL level and a decrease in LDL level. Recommendations for increasing HDL cholesterol:
- Physical activity
- nicotine abstinence
- Hypocaloric diet / weight loss
The higher this blood value is, the better.
Triglycerides (neutral fats)Triglycerides are also referred to as neutral fats. The fat molecules that we consume with food are chemically made of glycerol and three fatty acids each. The fatty acids are divided into single, double and polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are mainly found in animal fats and are rather unfavorable to the body. Vegetable fats and fish oils, on the other hand, contain the healthier unsaturated fatty acids. The body serves the triglycerides as energy storage. The triglyceride value should be less than 200 mg / dl if possible. Recommendations for triglyceride reduction:
- Metabolic normalization,
- Hypocaloric diet / weight loss, alcohol abstinence
In addition to a drug therapy sufferers can in many cases do something themselves: Anyone who suffers from a lipid metabolism disorder, should in any case change his diet and increase his physical activity. The diet should consist of a high-fiber diet with a 30% fat content (including a maximum of 10% saturated fats), less than 300 mg cholesterol and a carbohydrate content of more than 50%.
The effects of plant sterols, such as phytosterols, also have a positive effect on blood lipid levels; they are found in vegetable oils, seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruits. Weight loss, exercise and smoking and alcohol abstinence also have a positive effect on lipid metabolism, with small amounts of alcohol also leading to an increase in HDL cholesterol. In patients with genetically determined disorders of lipid metabolism, fat levels can rise to gigantic heights - LDL values of 500 to 1200 mg / dl are quite possible. These patients need special treatment.