High cholesterol levels can lead to various health issues and dangerous health complications, which is well-known to many. However, few are aware that low cholesterol levels can also negatively impact health, potentially leading to complications such as stroke, cognitive decline, increased risk of depression, infections, and more. So, what is considered a healthy cholesterol level in the body, and when is cholesterol supplementation necessary?
What is the ideal cholesterol level to maintain?
Cholesterol plays a crucial role in health, participating in numerous biological activities and metabolic processes within the body.
The human body can produce cholesterol in the liver and also absorb it from dietary sources, serving the following roles:
- Serving as a building block for cell membrane production.
- Assisting in bile secretion in the liver.
- Supporting the synthesis of sex hormones.
Cholesterol in the body is categorized into two types based on their transport molecules: LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol, often referred to as “good” cholesterol, constitutes a significant proportion of the total cholesterol. It functions by removing LDL from the bloodstream, preventing arterial plaque buildup, and maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.
On the other hand, LDL cholesterol, known as “bad” cholesterol, even though it constitutes a smaller portion, is a major contributor to arterial plaque formation, especially when its levels are elevated.
Total cholesterol is an overall assessment of both types of cholesterol in the body. It is recommended to maintain levels below 200 mg/dL (5.0 mmol/L). Within the range of 200 – 239 mg/dL (5.0 – 6.0 mmol/L), total cholesterol is considered borderline. Additionally, attention should be given to keeping LDL cholesterol levels as low as possible, optimally below 100 mg/dL (2.5 mmol/L). Conversely, HDL cholesterol levels should be high, ideally at 60 mg/dL (1.5 mmol/L) or above.
When is cholesterol supplementation necessary?
There isn’t a precise measurement for what constitutes low cholesterol levels in the blood, as it depends on various factors such as age, gender, health conditions, and even ethnicity. So, when should cholesterol supplementation be considered? In general, if HDL cholesterol is below 40 mg/deciliter (1.0 mmol/L) of blood or if LDL cholesterol comprises a significant portion of total cholesterol, then supplementing HDL cholesterol could be contemplated.
It’s important to note that cholesterol comes in two types: good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. When supplementing, it’s crucial to maintain a balance between these two types of cholesterol. Excessive supplementation of bad cholesterol can elevate the risk of arterial plaque buildup, leading to health issues and serious complications. Instead, supplementing HDL cholesterol should be prioritized under the guidance of a doctor.
Groups that are prone to low cholesterol levels include:
- Individuals with liver disease, malnutrition, or poor absorption.
- Those with leukopenia (low white blood cell count).
- People with renal insufficiency.
- Individuals with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
- A diet lacking in Manganese or low in fat.
Additionally, low cholesterol levels can be genetically linked and can occur early in children under 1 year old, requiring early detection and timely supplementation.
Maintaining normal cholesterol levels and achieving an appropriate ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol is one of the primary conditions for preserving health and preventing complications.
How should cholesterol supplementation be approached?
Currently, there isn’t a medication available that directly increases overall cholesterol levels. Only Statins can be used to raise HDL cholesterol. However, these medications can potentially have serious side effects, so they should be taken as prescribed by a doctor at the appropriate dosage.
To supplement and maintain cholesterol at a normal level, a healthy diet and a balanced lifestyle are recommended.
Balanced Cholesterol-Boosting Diet
The following foods are rich in HDL cholesterol and help mitigate the negative effects of LDL cholesterol, making them important additions to your daily diet:
Whole grains: These foods are high in fiber and help reduce levels of bad cholesterol. Examples include whole sesame, various types of legumes, brown rice, oats, barley, and more. For those with low cholesterol or excessively high LDL cholesterol levels, consuming at least 2 servings of whole grains per day is recommended.
Fatty fish: Particularly abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines increase HDL cholesterol levels. To supplement cholesterol in the body, aim for at least 2 servings of fish per week.
Avocado: With its high content of folate and monounsaturated fats, avocados are beneficial for overall health and elevate HDL cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Red wine: Numerous studies have indicated that moderate consumption of red wine can raise good cholesterol and decrease the risk of cardiovascular complications. A suitable amount for each individual is 1 to 2 glasses of red wine per day.
Chia seeds: Chia seeds are known for their abundant supply of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Regular consumption of chia seeds can increase HDL cholesterol levels and overall cholesterol levels, preventing health issues related to cholesterol deficiency.
A Healthy Lifestyle to Boost HDL Cholesterol
Engaging in daily exercise is the best way to reduce LDL cholesterol, increase beneficial HDL cholesterol for overall health, and prevent cardiovascular issues. You can choose a sport or physical activity you enjoy, work out for 20 – 30 minutes each session, and maintain this routine 5 times a week to effectively regulate your body’s cholesterol levels.
In conclusion, maintaining a balanced cholesterol profile is essential for overall health and well-being. Striking the right balance between HDL and LDL cholesterol through a combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise can help prevent cardiovascular complications and promote a healthier lifestyle. By making informed choices about the foods we consume and engaging in consistent physical activity, we can work towards achieving and maintaining optimal cholesterol levels, thus enhancing our overall quality of life.
John Alen was born in 1971 and is a doctor in the healthcare and psychology fields with many years of experience. He is currently working at easyhealthylive.com, a leading health and psychology blog. Having studied at Y1 National Medical University named after IM Sechenov, John Alen is using his knowledge and experience to help improve the physical and mental health of people in the United States.