Irving Primary Care

A Guide to High Cholesterol

There are two medical terms that we tend to commonly hear associated with aging and health. One is high blood pressure, and the other, high cholesterol. But really, what is cholesterol and why are high levels detrimental for your overall health?

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is one of the many substances found within our cells – the only difference is, it’s a dense, fat-like substance that is present in virtually every single one of them. It’s actually quite useful for a variety of functions – it aids in the production of various vitamins as well as essential hormones and even bile.

Types of Cholesterol

There are two different types of Cholesterol, namely HDL and LDL. HDL or high-density lipoprotein (lipoproteins are the tiny carrier bundles of cholesterol) is the good or beneficial form of cholesterol, while LDL or low-density lipoprotein is the not-so-favorable kind.

High cholesterol generally indicates an increase in the LDL levels.

Detriments of High Cholesterol Levels

The LDL, or low-density lipoprotein is known as the bad type of cholesterol because it causes deposits of plaque to build up along the walls of all the major blood vessels of the body, especially those of the heart. The hardened deposits narrow the path for the oxygen-laden blood leading to a serious condition known as Atherosclerosis. The severity of this condition can be realized with the fact that it can cause strokes, or heart attacks. It can also be fatal.


Much like high blood pressure, high cholesterol is also a silent killer – in that there are no prominent symptoms or obvious signs of raised cholesterol levels in the body. However, you can regulate and manage the cholesterol levels by visiting your physician and requesting a complete work up which will involve a blood test known as the lipid panel.

The lipid panel is the identifier of the body’s cholesterol levels. In case it is found that your cholesterol levels are higher than they should be, before pharmaceutical medicines are prescribed, you might be advised to make certain lifestyle changes that will aid the lowering of your body’s cholesterol. An active lifestyle, with a balanced diet that is devoid of overindulgences such as smoking or heavy drinking is more than enough to keep your cholesterol in check.

Dietary Changes to Control Cholesterol Levels.

Cholesterol is very closely related to the amount of artificial fat we consume. The more we weigh, higher are the chances of imbalanced cholesterol. However, you can easily restore balance by making healthier eating choices. The most obvious dietary changes to lower and manage cholesterol levels include:

  • Limiting sugar intake
  • Incorporate more fiber (whole gains, peas, various fruits and vegetables)
  • Avoid processed meats and foods loaded with artificial Trans fats such as coffee creamers and powdered milk, frozen foods and margarine.
  • Choose natural sources of unsaturated fats such as fish, olive oil, sunflower oil, and nuts

The main causes of cholesterol are people not doing what the body needs – such as a nutritious diet or exercise. If you stay active and eat good you will be able to avoid cholesterol related problems.