Cholesterol is an organic molecule in the form of lipid (fat) that is contained in our body cells. It is a major component found in the cell of animals. It is manufactured by the liver and other cells in the body. It plays a vital role in the production of sex hormones, production of liver bile, strengthening of the cell membrane structure, and in the synthesis of vitamin D. Cholesterol can also be found in certain foods such as in plant and animal products, because they also have cholesterol in their cells. However, it is necessary to control cholesterol levels in order to stay healthy.
In the body, cholesterol is transported by proteins called lipoproteins. These lipoproteins are of two types, the High- density lipoproteins (HDLs) which transports excess cholesterol out of the cells, and the low- density lipoproteins (LDLs) which conveys cholesterol to the cells. The former is known as the good cholesterol as it helps to eliminate excess cholesterol that may prove harmful to the body, while the latter is known as the bad cholesterol because it transports cholesterol to the cell and when the cholesterol level becomes too high for the cells to work on, it accumulates within the artery walls and cause artery associated diseases.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO CONTROL CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
Experts believe that the cholesterol produced by our body is sufficient and we do not need to eat foods that contain cholesterol to augment the one produced by the body. However research has recently shown that dietary cholesterol itself does not put us at risk, but consuming foods high in trans fat, saturated fat and excessive sugar can lead to the build-up of bad cholesterol in our arteries.
It is important to tread carefully with caution when it comes to eating foods that contain a high amount of trans and saturated fats as they can trigger the production of excess LDLs that can block your arteries and place you at risk of developing stroke, heart attack, transient ischemic attack, and coronary heart disease.
HOW CAN YOU CONTROL CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
The key to lowering and monitoring cholesterol levels is through diet. Cutting down on foods rich in saturated fats and high sugar such as processed meats(e.g sausages), ice cream, fat-containing dairy milk, bacon, cakes, pastries, fatty portions of meat, fried foods, convenience and fast foods to mention but a few, can go a long way in keeping blood cholesterol level in check.
Cholesterol levels can also be monitored in the body by simply adopting certain lifestyle changes. This may include the following :
- Cutting down on alcohol consumption. Too much intake of alcohol can rapidly increase the level of triglycerides (a type of fat stored in your body from empty calories). A high level of triglycerides in your blood is associated with high cholesterol levels and puts you at a considerable risk of developing heart disease.
- Increasing physical activities like taking walks daily can increase the production of good cholesterol (HDLs) in the body and at the same time reduces the levels of triglycerides and LDLs in the bloodstream.
- Losing weight can help decrease the level of cholesterol in the bloodstream as obesity can enhance the levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol in the blood.
- Quitting smoking is another important lifestyle change you need to make as smoking creates an easy path for LDLs to gain access to the arteries.
- Controlling blood sugar levels in diabetic patients is an important measure in reducing cholesterol as an increase in blood sugar can lead to the hardening of the arteries known as atherosclerosis.
Sometimes making dietary and lifestyle changes may not suffice in curbing high cholesterol levels. In this case, medications may be prescribed by your doctor. Statin drugs are most commonly prescribed. Other drugs include, lipitor, prevalite, Zetia, repalite amongst others.
ARE THERE APPS THAT CAN CONTROL CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
Technology has evolved over the years to include mobile apps that have medical uses. This has been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as mHealth. mHealth has made actualizing health objectives quiet easy. As part of the goals and objectives of mHealth, numerous apps that can monitor a person’s heart rate, blood sugar and glucose levels, and even test eyesight have sprung up in today’s world. Checking blood cholesterol levels is not excluded in this technical breakthrough.
There are a number of applications that can help one monitor their blood cholesterol levels in an easy and cost-effective manner. These apps help to keep track of dietary and fitness patterns in order to meet the recommended requirements. They also provide nutritional information on foods and food labels using special inbuilt bar codes and recommend foods that can help keep your cholesterol level in check.
Some apps that can help you monitor your cholesterol levels are:
CHOLESTEROL TABLE DIET AID APP
This app provides a list of foods and the amount of cholesterol they contain. It helps you make an informed choice when it comes to selecting the right diet. If the food of interest you are looking for is not on the app, you can input it and it will automatically calculate the amount of cholesterol it contains. It is mostly available for Android phone users.
FOOD VISOR APP
This makes use of a software that recognizes pictures of food and analyzes their nutritional content including the quantity of cholesterol. All you have to do is to take a picture of the food and upload it to the app. The software will scan the picture and provide results. The app also makes provision to chat with nutritionists who give advice on recommended nutritional intake to fit dietary goals. It also includes charts and graphs that record your progress. This wonderful app is available for both Android and iPhone users and does not cost a dime.
Are you a fan of eating out and are worried you might not be able to discern the right foods on restaurant menus that will not up to your cholesterol levels? Then this app is for you. It helps you find dishes at restaurants close to you that meet your dietary needs. Simply input the type of diet you are working on, such as a low cholesterol diet and the app will direct you to the right restaurant or food outlet near you with full details of dishes on their menu following your dietary requirements.
HOW TO LOWER CHOLESTEROL APP
This is an information-packed app. It takes you through everything you need to know about cholesterol and how to minimize it in your body. It even provides information about drugs and gives detailed diet plans you can follow among many others. It is definitely a go-to app when it comes to beating high cholesterol levels.
SHOP WELL APP
When it comes to grocery shopping, a lot of us fall victim to the wrong type of factory-produced food products due to a lack of in-depth understanding of the nutrients they contain. This is where the “shop well app” comes in handy, it gives detailed information on store-bought food items. All you have to do is scan the selected food item on the app and all nutritional information associated with the food will pop up on your screen. What even makes this more appealing, is that it also recommends healthier choices that will fit your diet.