Status: 29.11.2023, 14:25 PM
By: Juliane Gutmann
Our body needs cholesterol to maintain vital functions. But high cholesterol levels can be life-threatening – here's how to prevent it.
- The body needs cholesterol to maintain vital functions.
- However, the cholesterol level must not be too high - this is how you counteract this.
Our hormonal balance is significantly influenced by cholesterol and every cell in the body contains the natural substance that the body can produce itself. "We couldn't live without cholesterol," Focus quotes Martin Halle, the medical director of the Chair and Polyclinic for Preventive and Rehabilitative Sports Medicine at the Medical Faculty of the Technical University of Munich.
As an expert in cardiovascular diseases, he is critical of the modern lifestyle, which promotes elevated cholesterol levels. These include, on the one hand, too little exercise and, on the other hand, a diet that contains too many unhealthy fats.
These fats lower your cholesterol
According to Halle, fats are used in the body to form cholesterol (blood lipids). But if too much cholesterol flows in our veins, the risk of it being deposited in the vessels and narrowing them increases. A fatal consequence of this development: Depending on which vessels are affected, this can trigger a heart attack or stroke.
Diet can have a significant impact on cholesterol levels: make sure you choose the right fats. © Jens Büttner/dpa
However, not every fat promotes a narrowing of the vessels. "There are good and bad fats," Halle said in an interview with Focus. The good fats are those that take on a liquid form at room temperature, such as olive or rapeseed oil. However, oils in nuts and legumes, cereals and whole grains also contain unsaturated fatty acids that keep the vessel walls elastic.
Read also: Not all cholesterol is the same.
"We can keep our whole body fit and active through our diet"
The situation is different with saturated fatty acids, which Martin Halle counts among the unhealthy fats. Butter and coconut oil would be an example. However, other fats that take on a solid form at room temperature should also be replaced with unsaturated fatty acids to lower cholesterol levels.
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"We can keep our whole body fit and active through our diet," says specialist Martin Halle in an interview with Focus. In his eyes, nutrition plays an essential role in the health of our cells.
LDL and HDL cholesterol: the difference between good and bad cholesterol
LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein, German as much as low-density lipoprotein. It is considered a "bad" component of blood lipids, as reported by the German Society for the Fight against Lipid Metabolism Disorders and their Complications DGFF (Lipid League) e.V. It transports fats from the liver to the organs and can remain in the blood when the body's cells can no longer absorb more LDL cholesterol. In the worst case, it accumulates as part of deposits (plaques) in the vessel walls, which can narrow veins and thus impede blood flow. Therefore, LDL cholesterol is considered to be a trigger of cardiovascular diseases, heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis.
HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, transports excess cholesterol to the liver, where it is broken down. HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein. It disposes of bad LDL cholesterol, so to speak, and thus protects the blood vessels. Therefore, experts recommend for total cholesterol levels: An HDL cholesterol level of more than 40 mg/dl for men and over 45 mg/dl for women and an LDL cholesterol level of less than 115 mg/dl is considered favorable according to the Lipid League.
Read more: Four signs: This is how easy it is to tell if your heart is healthy.
This article only contains general information on the respective health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. It is in no way a substitute for a visit to the doctor. Unfortunately, our editorial team is not allowed to answer individual questions about clinical pictures.