Understand Cholesterol and Triglycerides and How They Work in the Body

Understand Cholesterol and Triglycerides and How They Work in the Body

Much hear about cholesterol and triglycerides and how they may affect the plans to have a healthy life. But you know exactly what these substances and what is their role in your body? Under what conditions they can be unhealthy? By the way, do they really are purely harmful substances?

In this post, we will discuss some myths and truth about cholesterol and triglycerides to help you understand how they work in the body. Continue reading and inquire about it!

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by the body’s own cells and found in the various tissues. Most of the cholesterol is produced in the body by the liver (endogenous origin), but the power may also include some cholesterol in the body (exogenous).

The membranes of body cells depend on this substance can be formed. Similarly, hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and cortisol have their origin in cholesterol. Besides these, many other body structures and processes need this substance to happen.

Cholesterol is produced in the liver has to be taken into the cells to be used. This work is done by special proteins called lipoproteins. There are two major types of lipoproteins:

  • HDL ( high density lipoprotein ) or high density lipoprotein;
  • LDL ( low density lipoprotein ) and low density lipoprotein.

LDL: “bad cholesterol”

LDL is the major cholesterol carrier in the body. However, when cholesterol is carried through the bloodstream by lipoproteins that in high amounts, often called “bad cholesterol”.

This nickname is because LDL cholesterol, when in excess, is deposited on the inner walls of the blood vessels through which it passes. Together with the fat accumulates in these LDL deposits, is the formation of cholesterol plaques. These plates are known as atheromas.

The atheroma formation in the blood vessels reduces the section of the vessel through which blood can pass: is called atherosclerosis. In this condition, the heart needs to make much effort to continue pumping blood, which can lead to serious cardiovascular problems .

LDL cholesterol levels in the body are thus considered:

  • less than 100 mg / dL: good;
  • between 101 and 130 mg / dL: Normal;
  • between 131 and 160 mg / dL: Normal / high;
  • between 161 and 190 mg / dL: high;
  • greater than 190 mg / dL: very high.

HDL: the “good cholesterol”

Lipoprotein HDL, in turn, when transports cholesterol is known as “good cholesterol” because its function is to take it back to the liver. Thus, the excess deposited in arteries by LDL is directed back to the HDL be further metabolized.

Higher HDL levels provide some protection for the heart to hinder clogging of the arteries. Rather, low levels of HDL are not good.

Currently, it is considered the following values ​​for HDL cholesterol in the body:

  • less than 40 mg / dl: low;
  • between 41 and 60 mg / dL: Normal;
  • greater than 60 mg / dL: high.

What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides (also called triglycerides) make up the most common form of fat in the body and are essential for the body can provide energy to the body’s muscles. When not used, they are stored in adipose tissues as fat.

Triglycerides also serve as reserve power for prolonged fasting situations or the condition of a poor diet. On the other hand, its excess – known as hypertriglyceridemia – is very harmful to the body.

A sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical exercise creates dangerous situations for the heart: if there is no physical effort, no muscle power consumption. Thus, the unused triglycerides accumulate as fat, leading to overweight and obesity.

Although be also produced by the body, feeding is the main source. In fact, the liver turns some foods into triglycerides. This substance is found mainly in foods high in simple carbohydrates such as flour and sugar . It is also abundant in fatty foods such as meats, whole milk and its derivatives.

There are several reasons why triglyceride levels may rise as genetic conditions that predispose to hypertriglyceridemia, the adoption of high fat diet (rich in energy) or the presence of certain diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, severe renal impairment and hypothyroidism .

Among other conditions that can lead to high levels of triglycerides, we can highlight:

  • pregnancy;
  • Excessive alcohol consumption;
  • continued use of certain drugs.

For the triglycerides in the body, the figures used are:

  • to 150 mg / dL: Normal;
  • between 150 and 199 mg / dL: borderline;
  • between 200 and 500 mg / dL: high;
  • greater than 500 mg / dL: very high.

What is the relationship between them?

There is a direct correlation between triglycerides and LDL. This means that when one is high in the body, the other is also. On the other hand, the correlation with the HDL is reversed, or high triglyceride levels usually occurs accompanied by low levels of HDL.

Because of these two reasons, high triglyceride levels are directly related to coronary heart disease as the formation of atheromatous plaques.

How to keep health day?

The intake of unsaturated fats – such as those existing in olive oil and avocado, for example – increase the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides. On the other hand, saturated fats, like those found in animal products – meat and whole dairy products, for example – increase LDL levels.

eating habits that are rich in unsaturated fats and poor in saturated fats are a good starting point for a healthier life. However, this does not mean that they should be banned the feeding of fat – it would not be natural.

A healthy diet  coupled with a routine that involves at least one physical activity daily is the best recipe for health. But beware: even adopting good habits, we need to keep health day and keep  appointments  scheduled with your doctor. For a definitive diagnosis, you may be asked a laboratory examination with a view to reading of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, among others.

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