Cholesterol And Indians

2017-04-24 01:07:39



What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But if you have too much in your blood, it can combine with other substances in the blood and stick to the walls of your arteries. This is called plaque. Plaque can narrow your arteries or even block them.

Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. The liver produces 75% of the cholesterol that circulates in our blood. The other 25% comes from food. At normal levels, cholesterol actually plays an important role in helping cells do their jobs.

Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream in small packages called lipoproteins (lip-o-PRO-teens). These packages are made of fat (lipid) on the inside and proteins on the outside.

Two kinds of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout your body: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Having healthy levels of both types of lipoproteins is important.

LDL cholesterol sometimes is called “bad” cholesterol. A high LDL level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. (Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to your body.)

HDL cholesterol sometimes is called “good” cholesterol. This is because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver removes the cholesterol from your body.

High levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of heart disease. Your cholesterol levels tend to rise as you get older. There are usually no signs or symptoms that you have high blood cholesterol, but it can be detected with a blood test. You are likely to have high cholesterol if members of your family have it, if you are overweight or if you eat a lot of fatty foods.

Cholesterol and Indians

"India is currently witnessing nearly two million heart attacks a year and majority of the victims are youngsters," Dr Ashwani Mehta, senior consultant cardiologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital

One person dies every 33 seconds owing to an heart attack in India, says a top city cardiologist, adding that the deadly condition is making Indians its victim 10 years ahead of the people in the West.

Cholesterol problems are very common among Indian due to genetic risk, lack of physical activity, and suboptimal dietary habits.

The likelihood of dying from heart disease in young people doubles with every 40 point increase in total cholesterol. LDL and total cholesterol levels among Indians are similar to that of whites but higher than for other Asians.  However, for any given level of cholesterol, heart disease risk among South Asians is double that of other ethnic groups. Therefore, the optimal or goal level of total and LDL cholesterol is lower among South Asians.

South Asians tend to have low HDL (good cholesterol) levels which puts them at markedly increased risk for heart disease. HDL is even more important than LDL. Low HDL is three times more common than high LDL in patients with premature heart disease. Centenarian (those lucky few who live to be a 100 years of age) often have very high HDL levels, which may account for their longevity!

Cholesterol Testing

Cholesterol levels should be measured at least once every five years in everyone over age 20. The screening test that is usually performed is a blood test called a lipid profile. Experts recommend that men ages 35 and older and women ages 45 and older be more frequently screened for lipid disorders.




Total Cholesterol

Below 200 mg/dl

200-239 mg/dl


150 mg/dl

150-199 mg/dl

HDL Cholesterol

60 mg/dl

35-45 mg/dl

LDL Cholesterol

60-130 mg/dl

130-159 mg/dl


Cholesterol and Family History

Cholesterol comes from two sources - the body and food - and either one can contribute to high cholesterol. Some people inherit genes that trigger too much cholesterol production. For others, diet is the main culprit. Saturated fat and cholesterol occur in animal-based foods, including meat, eggs, and dairy products made with milk.  In many cases, high cholesterol stems from a combination of diet and genetics.

What Boosts Your Risk?

Several factors can make you more likely to develop high cholesterol:

1.    Stress.

2.    Smoking.

3.    Wrong diet- Saturated foods such as meats, oil, whole milk, egg yolks, butter, cakes, moist biscuits, cream and cheese.

4.    No exercise.

5.    Being overweight or obese.

6.    Family history.

  1. Getting older

8.    High blood pressure.


Cholesterol Buster

Eat heart-healthy foods


The most important contributor to elevated triglycerides in Indian is processed carbohydrates such as white rice and bread products such as, paratha, naan or puri. Replace white rice with brown rice or rice substitutes such as ragi (millet) or quinoa. Upma or whole-wheat chapathis are additional healthy options.

As the El Camino Hospital aptly phrases it, the goal is at least 2 fistfuls of vegetables/day, 1 fistful of fruit/day, 12 nuts/day, and zero sugared drinks.

 Choose healthier fats. Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and dairy products, raise your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol.

Eliminate trans fats. Trans fats affect cholesterol levels by increasing the "bad" cholesterol and lowering the "good" cholesterol. 

Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids don't affect LDL cholesterol. 

Increase soluble fiber. There are two types of fiber — soluble and insoluble. Both have heart-health benefits, but soluble fiber also helps lower your LDL levels.

Add whey protein. Whey protein is one of two proteins in dairy products — the other is casein. 


Physical activity is important for weight loss and healthy living. 30 minutes of daily physical activity, 5 days a week can work wonders for your health! Physical activity doesn’t need to require too much strain and can include walking or gardening. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends an average of 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity three or four times a week. 

Examples of moderate-intensity exercise include:

  • Walking briskly (3 miles per hour or faster)

  • Bicycling (10 miles per hour or slower)

  • Playing tennis (doubles)

  • Gardening

Examples of vigorous-intensity exercise include:

  • Racewalking, jogging, or running

  • Swimming laps

  • Playing tennis (singles)

  • Aerobic dancing

  • Bicycling (10 miles per hour or faster)


Various studies suggest that yoga can help curb cholesterol naturally without any harmful side-effects on the body. Yoga is an ancient discipline that shapes up the body and calms the mind through yoga asanas, pranayamas () and meditation.

  • Sarvangasana
  • Vajrasana
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana
  • Shalabhasana
  • Kapalbhati
  • Anulom Vilom

Source:,,,,,,, Times of India,